Private Eye | Fill in the Blanks: Early deadlines take the news out of newspapers 

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It’s Friday, Dec. 21, 2007, and they only told me yesterday I had to have my column done by today. Since Christmas falls on Tuesday this year, the paper decided to move its deadlines up. So instead of writing on Tuesday, I am writing on Friday. Not a big deal unless you’re like me and hold Fridays in too high regard to work that day. Or not a big deal except that between now and Tuesday something more relevant and topical will occur to write about, and this becomes a lost opportunity.

Really, it’s nearly an embarrassment to even try to write something now, this long before the paper will be printed and distributed. Last time Christmas fell on a Tuesday, we moved our deadline the other direction and made our deadline the day after Christmas, not the day or days before. I take it that most of the staff of City Weekly will appreciate the extra time off during the holidays—our next edition is also being produced a full four days before the normal deadline because New Year’s Day falls on a Tuesday, too, thus creating another four-day weekend for us. It’s nice to have some time off, and as one who takes lots of time off, I can say that with authority. This will be a nice couple of breaks for everyone and a nice respite from a record-setting year at this paper.

However, early deadlines pretty much takes the “news” out of a newspaper. I don’t know what everyone else here is writing about (I seldom do, anyway), but from what I gather, just about everyone is scrambling to be relevant. I’m sure they’ll do better at it than I will. Their jobs depend on it and mine doesn’t. It’s bad enough that the Internet already makes all newspapers a little less relevant and a little less timely. Before noon, the morning paper delivered to your doorstep is obsolete, and some would say it was obsolete before it ever landed in your gutter. This time of year, we go the extra measure and add our own obsolescence to ourselves by moving our deadlines.

Except for writing about timeless seasonal subjects for the umpteenth time—love, Christmas, resolutions, crèche fights, homelessness, weather, thankfulness, the Troggs—it becomes a challenge to lay to paper anything with any creativity or stickiness. You already know I’m stating the obvious since if you’ve also picked up nearly any other paper in town, you’ve read the same things over and over, just by different authors. I call these the “I’m so happy with myself I could shit” stories. Just like the lowly groundhog who comes out but once a year, authors all over town are right this minute trying to be extra sensitive, funny, clever or endearing. In the spirit of Christmas, of course.

But, I’m like the rest of you. I like Christmas alone with my family. I can’t pretend to be better at Christmas than the rest of you, neither to enjoy it more nor dread it less. Especially in this column. All I know is that it’s a damned shame that Christmas is so trivialized going toward it (starting in early November with post-Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving, Christmas-is-a-comin’ store sales) and so fleeting going past it—in a few days, we’ve mostly had enough and cried, “Uncle.” It’s the few and very worthy humans among us who carry a Christmas spirit with them year round. It is they we envy. The rest of us mock them with our periodic bouts of humanity … as well with our annual vain musings on pages such as this.

Look. I can’t do this. For the past two hours people have been coming by with food, treats and firewater. Major deadline distractions. I hope you get what you want and that you lose some weight next year. Later. You can fill in the rest.








Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

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