Exile on Jones Street: HBD TCB! (Now get back to work)

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kirk rossby Kirk Ross

If you are reading this on the internet, please remember that this reporter loves you very, very much, but your brothers and sisters who are reading this via ink and paper and all the heavy lifting involved in filling the racks, well, they’re special.

People still call their individual copies “my newspaper.” No one ever says that about a website.

Last winter, when the editor/founder of this paper called me about reviving my weekly column on state government and public policy for a new print weekly, I confess that out of a combination of sentimentality and the need for income I did not do the sensible thing and talk him out of it.

Now, after a wild, yearlong ride, it appears that this paper has succeeded in carving out some breathing room in the always treacherous Triad media market.

At milestones like these I like to take the opportunity to talk about the importance of newspapers and their role in the vitality of the republic. Having run a few and even co-founded one myself once and having worked at newspapering for most of my life, I would, under normal circumstances, spend several hundred beautifully crafted words in homage to this great American institution.

I would, except there’s just a metric s*** ton of news happening right now and you and I ought to keep our sights on that.

Yep. Sorry. Because there is nothing like the relationship of a paper and its readers, and you deserve to revel in the fact that so many dedicated people spend their week constructing a custom, localized digest of news, information and items of interest and entertainment. But right now, instead of describing their toils there’s this new proposal to end gerrymandering and set up a separate redistricting commission that’s suddenly hit the table.

I’d love to talk about the importance of supporting this paper’s advertisers, but over the past week in the state House, which is just four working days into its new session, 35 bills have been filed. The Senate is way behind with just 14. That’s a couple of hundred of provisions, some of which are probably important.

And gosh, it sure would be nice to tip my hat to all the reporters in this state’s weeklies, this one especially, that have caused their counterparts in the major papers and on teevee to pay attention to something that’s been overlooked and underreported. But really, I kind of need to comb through this giant stack of campaign finance reports. (You wouldn’t believe all the energy industry bucks that flowed during the most recent campaign. Wow.)

Yes, our friends in that tiny newspaper office in Greensboro deserve all the support and praise you can heap on them. It’s a tough job and it takes over your life, which is almost as important to mention as the stealth campaign for governor that colors every move made by the attorney general and the current occupant of office.

You, dear reader, hold in your hands the ultimate example of curated information — distilled, explained and presented each week in stacks left within easy reach. Unlike the fact that 90 percent of last year’s coal-ash spill is still scattered in the channels of the Dan River, it’s okay to take that for granted.

And feel free to not ask yourself how you can thank Clarey, Green and Ginsburg for taking this chance. Because they’d rather you spend your inquisitiveness wondering why a fourth of this state’s kids are in poverty; who is getting sweetheart deal from regulators; or how a politician can earn more in stock options than his salary and not report it.

If you find a spare second, I’m sure the staff would love it if you would send them a note of congratulations, but please, keep it brief. News is breaking out all over.

Thanks for reading.