Saturday, September 25, 2021



Notice anything different about this week’s Columbia Flier/ Howard County Times? I did. And I tweeted about it.

Great! The Columbia Flier is now running syndicated content from Miss Manners. 

I would write a hyper-local Manners column for them for free! 

No, I wouldn’t. I’d probably want to paid for my work. And that’s what’s wrong with real people who live in your community. They want to be paid and treated like real human beings. #localjournalismmatters

And I brought it up on Facebook, which prompted this exchange:

Friend: They couldn't take the money they pay for Miss Manners and use it to hire a part-time reporter? Is Miss Manners that cheap? (well, you know what I mean ...)

Me:  Think of how many papers TribPub has. They probably get a package deal. 

I have nothing again Miss Manners. I do find it distressing to see our only local newspaper being padded more and more with syndicated content. Every piece like Miss Manners is occupying space that could (and should) be occupied by local stories. It’s like watching your home fill up with boxes of other people’s stuff, while less and less of it is accessible as your home anymore.

It’s sad.

It’s not that the editor of the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times thinks that we are particularly in need of etiquette content or even that we really want it. Someone higher up than that continues to cut away at monies for real-live journalists. Someone who doesn’t see or doesn’t care about the difference between “live, local” content and premade, general interest content.

Honestly, that kind of someone should not have any authority in the newspaper business. And yet, here we are. The local journalists that we do have are working as hard as they can and bear no responsibility whatsoever for syndicated content. Just imagine the stories we’d be reading about if we had more journalists. It’s mind-boggling.

Now, about that local Manners column. Would you read a hyperlocal one? Would you write a letter asking for advice? In some ways NextDoor has turned into a place where people vent their frustrations about interactions with their neighbors and ask for advice. Or maybe it’s merely a forum for self-justification. After all, Miss Manner was once all the rage. Now our society is tuned into forums like AITA, which is almost a reality show for inexplicable human foibles.

After this week I’m just itching to dispense advice on acceptable behavior. The more I think about it, being Columbia/HoCo’s Manners Maven might just be the second career I’ve been looking for. 

If only it were a paying job.

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