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Waiting For My Ox To Be Gored

By RD Heldenfels Published: March 14, 2006

Monday night I recorded the newscasts in the 6 p.m. hour on local stations because I wanted to see how they handed the changes -- or, more precisely, the uncertainty -- at the Beacon Journal.

As you may know, Knight Ridder, which owns my newspaper, has decided to sell to the McClatchy company. McClatchy, in turn, has said that it will sell 12 of the Knight Ridder newspapers, including this one. So we've been sold, and we're going to be sold again. As Randy Newman once said, ''No one likes us, don't know why ...''

I was accordingly interested to see how the local TV guys would handle the situation, especially since our straits seemed to give them a free shot. What I saw was, in some cases, worse than a shot. We were hardly newsworthy at all.

Channel 19 ignored the sale in its 6 p.m. news. Channel 8 waited devoted about 18 seconds to the story (and that didn't come until 20 minutes into the newscast);  a piece about a new magazine interview with Jennifer Aniston got more air time. Cable's Akron-Canton news did not lead with us either, waiting seven minutes to get to the story, and then used a quote from the mayor that probably confused people even more about what's going on.

Channel 5 devoted considerable time to our story, and was respectful about how it covered the situation. That said, Channel 5 is also a news partner of the Beacon Journal and has office space in the newspaper building.

So where was I at the end of all this? Part of me was snarling that this was a historic day, that an Akron institution was mired in uncertainty, and people who supposedly cared about the news could not be bothered to cover this story.

And then I thought, welcome to the real world.

Every day, people see things happen near them that they believe are the most important things in the world. They wait for the reporters and the news cameras. Often, they call to ask for the reporters and news cameras. Almost as often, hardly anyone shows up. Important news in your part of the world just isn't that big a deal to people in the next city or neighborhood or house.

While my ox was getting gored, TV news told me that not many others would care about the bloodshed. That stings. But no more than it stings to people ignored by the news every day.

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