And then it was gone. Just like that. In some spacious boardroom in one of Toronto’s claustrophobic towers, with the stroke of a few pens by some anonymous business people, no doubt followed by toasts with their beverage of choice, Northumberland Today, reduced to a few pages of legalese, was killed by people in suits from the Toronto Star and Postmedia, a newspaper itself on life support. As those pens scrawled across the contract, the history of Cobourg newspapers from as far back as 1831 was wiped out. In those few seconds, employees of Northumberland Today were cruelly and without any consideration tossed out onto the street. No job. No income. As the suits, without a care, raised their glasses. After all, nothing must get in the way of big business.
With the paper’s demise went The Passing Scene, a column that I had been writing for 15 years, first for the Cobourg Star and then for Northumberland Today. I wasn’t on staff but, instead, an itinerant scribe who, over the years, has written for several Northumberland newspapers, starting in 1979 with the no-longer-with-us Warkworth Journal. Ironically, just last year I wrote a column celebrating those 15 years, recalling how, during a casual meeting with then editor Mandy Martin, I suggested the idea of a bi-weekly column observing the local passing scene. Some 350-plus iterations later it was all over with the receipt of an ‘Did you hear about ..?’ email from a friend.
Over the years I have written about Cobourg and the Northumberland County scene; about personal experiences and observations not necessarily related to local life but, hopefully, interesting to readers. From time to time I’ve commented on the various Cobourg councils, their actions and responses to the town’s business, an important part of journalism, but not always generating a positive response from the elected officials. I’ve celebrated the lives of members of our community, of those no longer with us and their contribution to our town, as well as celebrating my country 60 years after I stepped ashore at Quebec City. I’ve observed how Cobourg is a feel-good town for foraging crows and how I’m a klutz when it comes to things high-tech – like computers – and Cobourg Council not wanting a citizen’s question period at the end of council meetings. Now, there’s an issue for the candidates in the up-coming election. Oh, and my life as newspaper junkie.
But, with the demise of Northumberland Today, that junkie has been going through withdrawal – which finds me now writing for John Draper’s Blog, a brand new medium for this non-techie which, at my stage of life, is an exciting new prospect. Who says you can’t teach an old guy new tricks? In the meantime, with Cobourg’s east pier in a shocking state of disrepair and an undetermined future, what a wonderful opportunity for the departing Council to leave a lasting legacy. More about that later …..