ASCII by Jason Scott

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The Millbrook Round Table —

My oldest friend, Chris Orcutt, went into his local hangout, the diner of his town of Millbrook, NY, and discovered that the local paper was closing its doors. Chris had worked on that paper over a decade before, as a true newspaper man, for a period of time, so it had a particular and personal resonance. So he did what he does, and wrote about it: Farewell, Millbrook Round Table.

This is a town small enough that you could stand at one end of the main thoroughfare, shout, and be heard on the other. From the outlook of people who have never known a time without television screens, and especially the outlook of people who have never known a time without an Internet, a local newspaper seems perhaps on the level of a ice block delivery. Chris gives it the right sendoff, as a personal story. He also shows the skills he learned working there, and some of what is beginning to disappear, just as a t-square and compass has primarily disappeared from the hands of people who call themselves designers.

Good riddance, say people who don’t know what they are saying good riddance to. We have Google News, say people who do not understand how this will blend that charming region of New York from a sharply focused observation on paper to a blurred reference on news services online.

Chris’ story is excellent. Take a moment to read it, if you have time in between skipping among RSS feeds or skimming hundred word summaries of distant atrocities.

Categorised as: computer history | jason his own self

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  1. Chris Orcutt says:

    You are too much, Jay. Generous to a fault, as usual.

    By the way, do you have an extra thousand bucks I could borrow? Thanks. No, no–US Priority Mail is fine. No need for FedEx this time. T’anks!

  2. p says:

    Thanks for linking this article!

  3. Flack says:

    Thanks for the link Jason, and what a great story Chris. I interned at two (read: both) local newspapers back in college while pursuing my own journalism degree and I can relate to a lot of things Chris said in his article. Newspaper writing is a learned skill that unfortunately most people take for granted (we only tend to notice the bad ones, unfortunately).

    My old journalism professor recently purchased her hometown’s newspaper. She currently lays out and edits the paper on her own and gets writing help from some of her journalism students. Chris, is the Millbrook paper for sale?

  4. Chris Orcutt says:

    Flack: I have no idea if the Round Table is for sale. I walked over to the most recent publisher’s office (Ann Gifford, Atty.), and discovered she had just moved across the street. But there was a serious snow squall here an hour ago, so I didn’t feel like going over there. I plan on dropping by to talk with her sometime this week. If I hear it’s for sale, I’ll leave a new comment here; if it’s not, or I can’t find out, I won’t say anything. Later, and thanks for the kudos. We former newspapermen need to stick together. Take care,


  5. Nancy Lutz says:

    I could not agree more! What an evocative piece! I don’t mind saying I actually got a little misty when I read i. This is real writing, folks, check it our before it disappears! Have an emotional response – it’s just like art!

  6. Mike K says:

    I have long worried about the problem of the prevalence of top-down information now that more and more of these bottom-up institutions are dying out. Blasphemous maybe, but I see the successor to the bottom-up problem, and it ain’t blogs.

    The model for low transaction cost distribution is called subscribe-and-publish for a reason. Twitter is the shining example beacon of this.

    You may have seen more and more local organizers starting twitter accounts that serve to cluster up locals. A great example for the Boston area is @BostonTweet who has managed to do this quite well. Similar things go to the @[zipcode]now folks.

    The dissemination of local information is taken over in this manner.

    And where I previously saw gloom, and was rather dubious of the Twiteratti, I’m much more hopeful.