09 January 2017

On being "in the paper"

In early December the Family section of the Guardian had a little piece on fridge magnets, and called for readers' stories and photos. On Saturday the compilation was published - including my story about Tony's collection of "arty" magnets.

Opening the paper as soon as the shopping was done and the coffee was to hand, I was thrilled to see the story and photo -
It appeared online too, and the photo with it -
Ah, those 15 seconds of fame. It's happened before, this printed alter-ego thing... chance took me to the Durham museum when a photographer from the local paper needed someone to hold a toy from the current exhibition - this was in 1971, back in my sweet-young-thing days! - and the photo was printed at quite a large size. Of course I sent it "home", and my parents had it on their wall, getting yellower over the years. [Rather irrelevantly ... I had been wearing a yellow crocheted waistcoat - not that you'd know, all newspapers were black and white in those days. But I'd loved making, and wearing, that garment during my one-and-only year of teaching in Vancouver; it arose from close inspection of a similar, trendy, crocheted "vest" in an expensive shop, and I went out and got some wool....]

Before we left Canada, in fact while I was doing postgrad teacher training, I'd been mentioned in our very local, very small-town newspaper as the recipient of a (small - but important to me - I was funding my studies) scholarship - that clipping turned up among the family photos. (The foundation still gives scholarships. Good stuff.)

Back then, being "in the paper" was a big deal, especially to a teenager. Suddenly you were known about by strangers. You were important, you'd achieved something ... or else your name wouldn't be in the paper, would it?  Of course there could be a downside, names of victims of traffic accidents etc were often in the paper, especially the local paper - out in the farmland of that small town, some of the young men and their dates ended up "in the ditch" at weekends, drink-driving and misjudging the sharp corners of those country roads. Mostly everyone got out of the car, and it made a funny story at school on Monday, but now and then someone died.

So you'd want to be "in the paper" for non-fatal reasons. Appearing in the paper was something that wasn't in your hands; it was mysterious how "the paper" knew what to write and about whom. With social media, personal publicity is mysterious no longer and very much in your own hands; the mysterious gatekeeper has disappeared. The thrill of suddenly bursting upon the world is a thing of the past.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

A special thing that now numerous unknown people know about your special remembrance.