By Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter
When your career involves quoting other people, it can be difficult to come up with noteworthy witticisms of your own. Why would you? That, and cat videos, is why we have the Internet.
Two of my favorites are appropriate this week:
“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” (Frank Herbert)
“Ends and beginnings — there are no such things. There are only middles.” (Robert Frost)
OK, one more, not because it’s particularly relevant, but it’s one by which I try to live my life:
“From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.” (Winston Churchill)
Preach, W.C. In terms of famous quotations about punctuation (bet you never knew there were such things), it’s right up there with Kurt Vonnegut’s, “Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing exactly nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”
I find myself pondering endings and punctuation this week, as the Redoubt Reporter ceases publication with this issue.
It’s a comma, rather than a period. One of those middles about which Herbert and Frost spoke.
In its current format, the paper has struggled to attain sustainability beyond the one-man (or woman)-band approach, and this drummer needs to go beat on some other things. Unfortunately, that means putting the Redoubt Reporter to rest for the time being. (Unless anyone out there wants to take over a newspaper for a while? Anybody? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the din of the crickets.)
The goal is to re-evaluate, reorganize and come back bigger and better. As John Wooden said, “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” Or Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
In the seven and a half years of producing this newspaper, I’ve racked up well over 10,000 ways that don’t work. (Notably, ever agreeing to do inserts. They were never worth the money. But I now possess the thoroughly useless knowledge of how long it takes to stuff 4,000 sheets of paper into as many newspapers. Pro tips — wear latex gloves to maximize grip and minimize ink stainage, an ironing board is great for setting the perfect height at elbow level, and your cat absolutely must be kept away from your completed stacks.)
At best, each and every error has been a learning experience. At worst, they are mistakes I don’t have to repeat. But even though we’re on hiatus for a while, I don’t consider that a failure. It’s a failure to continue to print regularly, perhaps, but that doesn’t negate the success we’ve had along the way.
If something you read in the paper informed, entertained or touched you in some way, it’s been a success. If we have added to community knowledge, dialogue and record, it’s been worthwhile. If any clippings found their way onto refrigerators, into scrapbooks or the mail to or from a grandmother, it will live on.
It’s been my great pleasure to be allowed to be a reporter in this community, and to do so under my own terms with this newspaper. That has only been possible because of you, readers, who have been willing to share your stories and been interested in reading about others’.
And the advertisers, who have seen value in connecting with customers via this publication. That you are willing to put your money where you believe people’s eyes are, especially when times are tough, is humbling and has allowed the Redoubt Reporter to exist. If anyone out there has appreciated this paper, you can show it by patronizing the advertisers printed within. And tell them it’s because they have supported the Redoubt Reporter. For many of our long-term advertisers, it wasn’t because they necessarily needed the exposure week after week (I’m looking at you, Sweeney’s, Country Liquor, Northcountry Fair, Sugar Magnolias, Tim’s Janitorial, Cook Inlet Dental, Kashi Law, Kenai Chamber of Commerce, Redoubt Realty/Marti Pepper, Dragonfly Gallery and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy), it was because they supported the idea of local community journalism. Thank them for that.
There’s been a lot of help along the way.
- First and foremost, the reporters and columnists who have written for the paper. Getting to read their work and share it with the community has been my favorite part of the Redoubt Reporter. Some have come and gone on to other venues, others have been here since the beginning, or shortly thereafter. All will remain permanently lodged in my appreciation. (Like those pieces of pencil lead we all used to get imbedded in our palms as kids. But in a good way.)
I’ve learned more than I ever realized I didn’t know about astronomy, craft beer brewing, entomology and digital photography, thanks to Andy Veh, Bill Howell, David Wartinbee and Joe Kashi. I’ve been entertained and enriched by Christine Cunningham and Jacki Michels. I’ve been artistically inspired by Zirrus VanDevere and Natasha Ala. I’ve had my perspectives challenged by Alan Boraas. I’ve come to better understand the history of this area, thanks to Clark Fair and Brent Johnson. I’ve been dumbfounded week after week by cartoonists David Booth and Gary Hondel and crossword puzzler Michele Hartline — I honestly do not comprehend how you all create such things. And I’ve been informed and professionally gratified by the reporting of Clark Fair, Joseph Robertia, Matt Tunseth, Patrice Kohl and other freelancers over the years. I hope readers feel the same.
Joseph, thanks for throwing in and hanging in with me. Even through dog mushing, building a house and having a child, you’ve never left me hanging on deadline. Nobody writes a fishing feature like you do.
Clark continues the hold the dubious honor of being the only person to make me cry over this paper. It was in putting together the first edition, Aug. 6, 2008, when I was coming to fully realize the magnitude of the undertaking I had created for myself and was questioning whether my abilities, not to mention my sanity, would be up to the task. I was pretty well convinced I had made the biggest mistake of my life when my email dinged. In it was a story and photos sent by Clark. We hadn’t known each other before then. A mutual friend somehow convinced Clark that I wasn’t completely insane and to agree to report for the paper, and told me Clark was a retired teacher and former reporter who would be the greatest writer I could ever hope to snag. And he was.
That first story (and all since) was well reported, beautifully written and grammatically immaculate, and the photos were all that and more. The realization that someone this competent would willingly sign on for this crazy ride gave me the boost I needed (well, that and the coffee — so very much coffee) to finish that issue. After a brief breakdown of relief (in which I kept working on layout, I’ll have you know), it was on with the show.
- The legacy of Katherine Parker, former reporter for the central peninsula’s best example of community news, the Cheechako News, and her daughter, Pattey, who gave me a place to set up shop.
- Graphic designers James Brown, who has never failed to add enough shamrocks to please Mike Sweeney, and Chris Jenness, who designed the flag and logos for the paper, as well as many other things along the way.
- Ad salesmen Joe Rizzo, Jamie Nelson and many others over the years. It’s a daunting job, and as the only one I couldn’t do myself for the paper, I appreciate it like no other.
- Paper deliverers. Though I am obsessive and like to do most things myself, this was one task I could not wait to hand off, as it meant I could actually get to bed Tuesday nights. Thanks to Crockett Schipman (and Paulene and Miranda Rizzo before that), not only have I gotten precious sleep Wednesday mornings, but I’ve sleep soundly knowing I didn’t have to worry about a thing. There have been other helpers periodically, including my first “secret” deliverer, Scott Misner, who hauled papers out to Nikiski for me in the early years. I’ve never been so happy to meet up with someone in a deserted parking lot in the wee dark hours of the morning as I was Scott. And my cavalcade of Kasilof carriers, dropping papers for me on their way to or from home or work. Paul and Sally, you always insisted the chore wasn’t out of your way, but I know it was way above and beyond.
- My parents. My dad, who demonstrated that I don’t have to do a damn thing anybody tells me to do unless it’s something I find value in doing (though I bet he wished I’d taken his advice a little more often). And my computer-genius mom, who models a work ethic that puts ants and worker bees to shame, and who has never once hung up on me when I’ve called in the middle of the night with a system malfunction that was 99 percent of the time caused by me not performing the updates, backups and regular maintenance she told me to do, like, a bazillion times before.
- And the many others, who have supported, contributed to and encouraged this paper, and me, personally, in many ways over the years. Thank you. I hope it, and I, were worth your while.
Going forward, our website will remain active, so you can view our story archive online and keep an eye out for our return. Hopefully we’ll be back at it soon, producing news for and about the central Kenai Peninsula.
Until then, “That’s all she wrote.” (Anonymous)
Jenny Neyman is the editor and publisher of the Redoubt Reporter.