This is part one of a three-part column intended to help my readers to tend to their business in an effective and timely manner.
Writer and motivational lecturer Napoleon Hill was quoted as saying, “The past of least resistance makes all rivers, and some men, crooked.” True.
H.G. Wells, known by many as the “father of science fiction” also looked at the easier way of doing this as a negative by saying, “The path of least resistance is the path of the loser.” Mmmmm. Not always.
In my opinion, the reference of philosopher and psychiatrist John Dewey (“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs.”) most relates to what I consider to be defined as that path — or rather — “practicing common sense in order to find the best result without being lackadaisical or stiff-minded.”
Dewey may have been talking about something else entirely but akin to his general thought, I think humans have a basic difficulty in changing their ways or accepting that change is often inevitable — for better or for worse. Likewise, people and animals learn (eventually) not to continue to do the same wrong thing over and over expecting a different result — unless (as I and Mr. Einstein agree) they are insane.
I feel that if you are walking a path and there are rocks and ruts and prickly bushes, go the other way, not because I am lazy, but because it only seems logical. On this note, I want to remind and/or reroute my readers so they can trip over stones in other areas of their lives instead of stumbling along trying to get things done with and within their local newspaper.
First, one needs to be able to accept that the newspapers of today, especially little town newspapers, are nothing like metropolis publications the likes of The Washington Post or The Daily Planet of Superman movies. The local paper you’re reading now and which you may have read as a child does not have offices of people wearing fedoras with little index cards printed with “PRESS” tucked in their trim waiting for the phone to ring. Nor are their teams of reporters in vans chasing after emergency vehicles to see what the emergency is. We don’t have staff posted at the police station, hospital, school and local park snooping into potential leads.
What you do have, is one person that cannot be cloned (yet — technology is getting frighteningly advanced). This means that I cannot be everywhere at the same time or even at every event, meeting and activity at different times — even if I did have a handful of clones. The title “editor” isn’t the same as it used to be either. I don’t wear a business suit, munch cigars behind a desk and tell people what to do — in an nutshell, it means that I cover as many things as I can in three different towns in two counties for two newspapers. I also have to do pretty much everything else related to the publications other than printing and delivering it.
I have a handful of stringers (actually, not even half a handful) who could literally be defined as either “people that have full-time jobs elsewhere or that have lives to live that don’t include running all over the place for anything that isn’t convenient to their schedule,” or “someone who if he/she gets a chance he/she might find an hour next month to attend something, if they have the car and a sitter and it doesn’t rain and the day is an odd number date.” I have no personal assistant, no secretary, no proofreader or ESPN staff hiding behind the scenes with cameras strapped to them or motorized cables.
Which makes it impossible to cover every production, game, dinner, awards ceremony, accident, altercation, fire, and police dept./fire dept./park board/town council/school board/chamber board/street dept./planning/Lions, Kiwanis, Psi Iota, VFW, American Legion, or Rotary club/organization or numerous committee meetings. Also it means I don’t even begin to attempt to attend the never-ending list of groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings, open houses, fundraisers, or cute things your puppy is doing. This publication is a glimpse into the community, and has never been nor was it intended to be a biography of every person and event, nor is it the school newspaper or area gossip magazine so I can’t tell you who wore what on mismatched socks day (unless someone sends a picture to me) nor can I tell you what your neighbor and his wife were doing in their (own) back yard last night.
Yes, someone really did want to know why I didn’t know what was happening the night before in their neighbor’s yard. (I mean really … how or better, why WOULD I know unless I was with them or with you peeking out a window?)
Another disgruntled once-in-awhile reader told me he was unhappy about the fact that I didn’t let the world know about the birth of a new family member. I didn’t have the heart to explain to him that I don’t also work 24-hours a day in the maternity wards of every hospital in the world to know all the new lives that enter existence. And while I’d like to fantasize that I am all-powerful and all-knowing, I am really more like Oz, a regular person working frantically to make all the gizmos and gadgets work like they should to produce something you won’t mind spending 50 cents for once a week.