health and well being of small town papers in Texas has been seriously threatened.
Declining readership of small town papers mirrors the downward curve of literacy.
In other words if you can't read, you probably won't enjoy the paper as much as
your school-taught cousins. |
Small town Texas papers are being bought
at an alarming rate. Not copies from the racks, mind you, we mean entire newspaper
publishers. Hear that giant sucking sound? It's YOUR paper being vacuumed off
to a piñata factory where it will soon become paper-mache Smurf heads.
Consequently, small town papers have resorted to drastic measures to stay afloat.
The first thing they did was to increase the price per issue. Most papers are
now .75 compared to the 12-pound, big-city rival paper in the next rack for .50.
There's an easy decision for small town readers - especially if they already heard
their team lost. The second thing they did was to start online editions of their
papers, so that readers don't have to pay for the paper at all.
third thing they did was cut down on punctuation.
has been said that a country gets the cabdrivers it deserves. If that statement
made any sense to you - then try this one: Do small town papers get the columnists
they deserve? The answer is "rarely."|
In Smithville, Texas (a town that,
when provoked, can rise to heights of small town greatness) the local paper (The
Smithville Times) has a rare item - a humor columnist. Besides that - it's humor
without malice. Mr. Gosselink seems to have been influenced by the 1970's commercial
slogan of "because we're all in this together."
Breaking with tradition,
Mr. Gosselink does not have a Texas-referenced sobriquet, which will merely delay
his ascent to what will eventually become household-word status.
not "Cactus Jake" Gosselink, "Rowdy" Gosselink, "Tuxedo Junction" Gosselink or
"Tumbleweed" Gosselink. He's not "Snake-eyes," "Dry-Gulch" or "Bitter-root" Gosselink
either (although it's rumored that he did briefly consider "Puddin'head"). Instead,
he goes by the no-nonsense, down-to-earth, take-it-to-the-bank, tell-it-to-the
Marines, (or have-the-Marines-take-it-to-the-bank) name of John.
spill all of John's biographical beans here. It's better that you read his brief
bio. We will
only say that every word of his bio is true - and subject to change without notice.
In his column John will share his humorous cultural (and non-cultural) observations
with our readers. He'll be our point man on hot button issues, our man in Smithville
and more importantly, he'll address topics we wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.
Gosselink's duties of penning-in punctuation for the paper made him easy to spot
when we met at a local eatery. He was the one surrounded by mountains of papers.
He was breaking the newspaper columnist's cardinal rule of "always sit with your
back against a wall - facing the door." As we walked up he was just finishing
up a sports page and was just adding horns and a goatee to a rival team's basketball
player. He looked exactly like several of his many newspaper portraits - except
in real life he's in color.
We spoke about mileage, stockcar racing,
football, and who makes the best chainsaw. As soon as the waitress left we talked
about teaching, sociological issues and sandwiches. We both like sandwiches.
Then the subject that always comes up when Smithville is mentioned - What
about Hope Floats - the movie that changed Smithville forever?
He agreed that the movie was a life-changing experience for most Smithvillains
and that even though his re-write of the script was rejected (during the filming)
he bears no hard feelings.
We agreed on topics for the column and discussed
how often it should appear. Mr. Gosselink seemed pleased that his column will
now reach a larger audience and we were pleased that he was pleased. It was a
Forward appears bi-weekly in TE beginning
in mid-August 2003.
Opinions expressed by Mr. Gosselink do not necessarily
reflect those of Mrs. Gosselink.
August 15, 2003