Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 8, 2014

VALLEY: The J-R is in dry dock, but the Waters are fine

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It was a little over eight years ago when I walked into the Journal-Register office on Main Street in Medina. I was there to give advertising manager Cindy McPherson a cartoon I’d drawn to use as an ad for Curvin’s Newsstand.

Then-editor Mike Regan, mistaking me for someone else, asked if I had my column ready. I told him I didn’t write columns. Without missing a beat he looked up from his desk and said, “Do you want to?”

(Bottom line: blame Mike Regan. He’s the one who started this weekly “From the Valley” thing. I just happened to be there at the “write” time.)

And now, as of May 30, the Medina Journal-Register will cease to be. The final publication will be issued and the newspaper will become a thing of the past, a mere memory.

I find that sad … but not completely for selfish reasons. (My column will still be published in the Lockport US&J.) I realize that any product is subject to the tendencies of the buying public, so be it, but I’m concerned that – not unlike a child who refuses to eat his vegetables – today’s generation doesn’t realize the value of what they are pushing aside. Maybe I’m wrong.

I won’t use this column to list why I prefer a hand-held newspaper over its electronic child. However, I will tell you that nothing burns my biff quite as much as listening to someone complain about spending less than a dollar on a newspaper and then having the nerve to complain that it is worthless garbage.

Yet, that same person, in the convenience store, will pay $1.30 for a bottle of water — yes, water — and not once say how insane it is to pay for something you can get for free. (Not to mention the $1.39 candy bar which he will devour before he gets back into his Pinto and drives off.)

People have an incorrect sense of entitlement about newspapers. They feel as though they are owed all the news there is to know at a mere pittance. Apparently, there’s a magic wand that dispenses all of that information on paper from a make-believe news-room where a revenue source is nonessential in making it happen.

Writing this column has been an epiphany. I never intended on doing such until that day in Mike’s office. But once I started, I realized how hard “real” newspaper people worked. And how little they are appreciated.

They are too often criticized by those who haven’t a clue – and recognized only by their peers.

Moving to Medina in the early ‘70’s, I started to get to know the J-R as a reader. And over those years, there were names that I associated as pillars of that publication.

People like:

Don Cook. Don’s award-winning nature photography was spectacular. His artistic sensibilities were equal to or better than anyone in the country. He was a winner in so many ways. His pieces were a respite from the often-dour news of the time.

Mike Wertman. Mike was/is a sports writer whose incredible volume of work is matched only by his quality of reporting. He and wife Cheryl live and breathe sports. His commitment was (and still is) the epitome of dedication. Hiring Mike Wertman was one of the wisest decisions the Journal ever made. He was a backbone of the J-R for decades.

There were plenty of other fine editors, reporters and staff who made the Journal what it was, too numerous to speak of.

But there is another I will mention: The estimable publisher emeritus, Mr. Robert E. Waters.

Bob is more than a second-generation premier newspaperman. He is a distinguished gentleman, a first-class human being and mentor to many. A superb communicator of both the written and verbal crafts and an altruistic volunteer whose philanthropic attitude, to better his beloved Medina, will resonate for eons. (A natty dresser, as well.)

I would be remiss if I did not mention Bob’s wife, the ultra-classy Mrs. Barbara Waters. She, too, stands tall in the annals of our village, and the Journal-Register’s legacy.

Nonetheless, time marches on and change is inevitable. But let it be known that the names and contributions of those who worked at the Journal-Register are gloriously etched into that wonderful Medina sandstone ... forever. Thank you, folks, for a job well done!

That’s the way it looks from the Valley.

Contact Tom Valley at tvalley@rochester.rr.com.