Thursday, December 11, 2008

Progress Means Sacrifice For Daily Tribune Address

Holding on to the past is a great and noble ideal, as long as it doesn't impede progress. I walked by the editorial offices of The Daily Tribune last evening in Royal Oak, or should I say, what's left of the Tribune.

It's gone, like so many other markers of this region's past. The offices are now littered with trash from desks and filing cabinets moved to different locales, counties and zip codes. I'm not upset, just a bit melancholy at the unceremonious departure of another Royal Oak institution. Oh, the paper's still being published. The editorial department is now under the umbrella of The Macomb Daily. It's simply another stark reminder of how much things have changed in south Oakland County. While Macomb County is an emerging community filled with new subdivisions, teeming high schools with massive numbers filling their sports teams, south Oakland schools are trudging along as shells of their former selves while half-filled or empty condominium units shadow the region's footprint. While Macomb is opening new schools, older schools are being shuttered and razed in Royal Oak.

But this is progress, right? Would you believe that my mother's childhood friend while growing up on Maplegrove in Royal Oak circa 1950 was a little girl who's own mother had been handed off the sinking RMS Titanic at two months of age? In the middle of the dark night, awaiting imminent death in the icy North Atlantic Ocean, her parents knew enough not to hold on to the past, because the past was sinking to the bottom of the ocean, destined to pull approximately 2,200 other passengers with it. Life goes on and they were lucky enough to ensure life for their daughter.

This past week was the annual anniversary of Pearl Harbor's bombing from the Japanese. I'll bet most of America looked entirely different on December 7th, 1911 than the same date in 1941 for all the reasons other than the obvious. Likewise, I'm betting the 1971 was nothing like '41, and 2001 was nothing like '71, either. In '71 the World Trade Towers in the lower battery of New York City were still only seen in completion on the drawing boards of a architect in Troy, Michigan; In 2001, they were lying on the ground with the slurry walls containing New York's Harbor in ruin as well.

The trade towers alone ought to illustrate my point. They've become an icon for American spirit and resolve -- and rightfully so -- and yet they were with us for less than 30 years.

Things change. Life goes on, and I don't miss the old wall-mounted, avacado-colored, rotary-dial phones any more than the next guy.

The Daily Tribune is simply a victim of an era long since passed. There was a time when the Tribune boasted a daily circulation of 80,000 homes but today the Sunday subscription numbers barely pass 10K. Detroit News columnist Joe Falls used to speak glowingly of the Tribune as one of our area's best-produced newspapers, and Falls knew a little about progress. He came to the News when the now-defunct Detroit Times passed into memory some 50 years ago.

Newspapers are changing and the new template they're using today to publish editorial content and procure advertising is the same vehicle you're using to read this column today. The physical buildings that gave us the comfort of knowing our local paper was there for us is now largely part of a newspaper business that's passed on.

The Tribune used to be South Oakland County's daily bible -- now we're writing part of her own obituary -- the Royal Oak address part, anyway.

~ T.C. Cameron is author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, and officiates three sports at the prep and collegiate level.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with most amateur bloggers is they don't have research departments to check facts or enough subject background to converse intelligently on the topics they write about. Joe Falls, for example, was hired by the Detroit Times in 1956 to cover the Detroit Tigers. He continued on the Tigers' beat with the Detroit Free Press from 1960 to 1978 before making his final move to the Detroit News where he was a columnist and eventually sports editor. Mr. Falls was the Sporting News Page Two columnist during his stint as a member of the Free Press sports department. The Sporting News Page Two columnist post was one of the best newspaper gigs in America at the time. There's an old saying in the newspaper business......'getting it right is more important than getting it first.' It's too bad the editorial landscape has changed so dramatically in the past few years.

December 12, 2008 at 10:09 PM 
Blogger The Write Referee said...

That's all well and good, but the post wasn't intended to be a complete and official bio of former Detroit-area sportswriter Joe Falls. Therefore, I omitted the middle and included his bookends.

I really don't see how this is 'wrong' as much as it's condensed for space and message-driven considerations.

December 13, 2008 at 9:05 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point wasn't that you were doing a bio on Joe Falks, but rather using his legend as a sports writer to make a stronger point about the Royal Oak Tribune. The reason the Tribune was so editorially superior during that tenure was because Burt Stoddard, a former Detroit Times and Free Press managing editor, had been hired. Stoddard was Mr. Falls best friend for most of his adult life. The omission isn't that you didn't know, but rather that you now make excuses for a simple mistake. And I will give you another example of redundancy in your writing. 'That's all well and good.' Both words mean the same. Again, getting it right is most important as a writer.

December 13, 2008 at 10:10 AM 
Blogger The Write Referee said...

Fair point. My writing style is more conversational and therefore, less fluid for practical & grammatical review. Redundency is the failing of an emerging wordsmith and with practice comes efficiency.

Thanks for taking the time to read, write and respond accordingly.

December 13, 2008 at 12:07 PM 

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