STILL RIDING ABOUT
March 6, 2017
By Arthur H. Gunther III
I wrote “The Column Rule” as a weekly– at times semi-weekly — newspaper essay for 25 years, principally because I had the opportunity, and there was never a dearth of subjects in my countryfied suburb of Rockland County, N.Y. The column had readership, touched some people, informed others and otherwise justified the use of daily newspaper space. The editors would have spiked it if it didn’t do the job.
Yet “The Column Rule” wasn’t exceptional, did not win vaulted awards, and true be told, there were better writers.
But I had the perch, and I tried to deliver a piece of nostalgia or insight or thanks in a way that was conversational, as if you were in a car with me on an evening ride and I later wrote of not just my thoughts but yours, too. Sometimes I can finish another’s sentence, but that’s just my equipment. You have yours.
It was a privilege penning essays in the original Journal-News, and it was humbling to be among their columnists from 1850 through the paper’s absorption in 1997 by a Westchester County-based big newspaper chain subsidiary.
True community newspapering depends on voices, be they eloquent, rough-hewn, brash or with delivery in silk. Informative and fact-based the voices must be to keep away the cancer of fake news. And the media voices must not only include staff columns and editorials — the paper’s voice — but letters, the people’s voice.
I write all this now because not only does it seem topical post-2016 but as a way of thanking the various Journal-News editors and loyal readers back then.
Since my “early” retirement in 2006, I have continued writing a weekly essay online, simply because I am driven to do so. It is an indulgence that I hope does not prove me ego-centered or boorish. After all,
as always, the reader can ignore. I will always stop the car and let you out.
The audience is far less these days, but I pray that I still have a few folk taking that car ride with me, for however more miles there may be. Thank you for the company.
The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org