The police arrested someone for arson and possession of stolen property, there was a fire started by a small child, the city held a public hearing about the 2010 budget, there was an open house for a program house built by high school students in the vocational program, and there was an event for the local after school program.
And that’s just Berlin. I am also supposed to cover Gorham, Dummer, Milan and other area towns. I stopped by the police department to ask about the 18 year old man arrested for arson and wound up talking with the detectives there for a while. We started talking about some of the larger problems Berlin is facing, and I started to wonder how the city manages with only two papers.
Only two? Does that sound strange? It is strange, because a daily paper and a weekly paper are more than many towns and cities have. But I am only writing eight to twelve stories a week, including the police log and covering city events. Today there were five events I found worth covering. That was today. I don’t have the time to cover everything, so luckily the daily paper covers some of those responsibilities. But still, there is enough happening, enough going on around Berlin, much less the surrounding communities, to warrant two daily papers and two weekly papers. Maybe the old model of the morning and evening paper would work well here, plus a weekly paper to dissect larger topics.
I feel like a throwback here, like someone who belongs in Chinatown or On the Waterfront. This seems absurd today, that a city of 10,300 should have three newspapers, but now, working in that exact environment, that’s what I feel would get the job done.
And what should it be worth to people? At tonight’s city council meeting there were references to stories in both papers, statements made by councilors and residents making it clear they were reading the papers. They pay 50 cents a week for the Berlin Reporter and nothing for the daily paper. Is that what it’s worth? Would people pay $26 a year to know what is happening in their community? I would think so. I know people who pay $3 a day for coffee. It doesn’t seem so far fetched to pay as much $3 a day for news. I know the Internet is taking over, I know people see papers as passe, but the idea, the concept of print journalism, is timeless.
I was talking to a detective about the man who was arrested last night, and I asked if I could talk to him in jail. He looked at me and said, “You really like to dig, huh?”
Who else out there is digging? I don’t know that I like to do it, but it is what I am in Berlin to do. And I would hate to live in a world where no one did it. I intend to talk to everyone I can, not just take someone else’s word for any fact. I hope a model can be developed to do my job in a twenty-first century medium, and I am thankful the Reporter is still willing to do it in print. I hope the citizens of Berlin are thankful as well. I hope I earn their 50 cents.