Monday, July 21, 2008

A slow death

It was called to my attention today that the Cheektowaga Times passed away last month. This strikes a chord with me, because I'm one of the many graduates of that publication.

The Times began in the late 1940's. Its editor, Willard Allis, was known for his feisty backing of Republican viewpoints in a generally Democratic town. It used to hire reporters/editors from the local dailies to come in once a week and help put together the paper, supplying them with a little extra spending money.

After I got out of college I worked for the Cheektowaga Examiner, the competition for a while, in 1978. We used to make fun of the Times, speaking as worldly 23-year-olds, as it looked like it should have been printed in the 1940's in terms of layout. Well, the Times got a last laugh. The Examiner was sold and then folded.

Fast forward to 1994, when I was unemployed and answered an ad for a reporter at the Cheektowaga Times. The mother of one of my interns with the Buffalo Sabres was the editor of the paper, and I got hired ... for all of three months. Mr. Allis had died, and Mrs. Allis (a very nice woman) came in once in a while to check up on her investment.

I was older than the rest of the youthful staff at that point, and they didn't think I particularly fit in with them well. But the editorial freedom was unmatched. I wrote some stories that won some awards in the state competition. And the editor essentially let me write anything I wanted as long as she didn't get sued and the basics were covered. It was great fun to turn into a smart-aleck political columnist for a while.

The Buffalo News came calling that fall, and I left the $6 per hour job for much greener pastures. But when the Times did an anniversary issue a few years later, someone called to do a story on my memories of the place. So I guess I left on good terms.

I don't get to Cheektowaga much, and I missed the story in June that it had folded without any notice. One of the Allis children, I guess, decided to pull the plug. Here's the funny part, though. If you go to the Cheektowaga Times on line, it's still there. The news content hasn't been updated, but you allegedly can still buy a subscription or look at some ads. And the all-Times softball team is at six weeks of publicity on the Web site, and counting.

It's always sad to see a newspaper die. At least in the case of this one, its death on line is occuring in slow motion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had the same feeling of sadness when I read that the Times had closed. We worked together for a very brief time - in fact, you were my replacement! It was a great place to learn, and I still get a kick out of pointing it out when I pass by on the 33.