How we got here today

By Marc Katz

Here’s how I envisioned retirement: get up from bed in the morning, move to the living room couch, and begin reading from a stack of newspapers, books and magazines.

Unlike Sarah Palin, I know what I’m reading: The New York Times, Vanity Fair magazine, GQ and Esquire.

Books are on baseball and history, mostly.

I know, I know. I’m not a Vanity Fair, GQ or Esquire kind of guy. Here’s the thing. You’ve got to keep up with what the other side of the world is doing. Sure, it’s not really the other side of the world, but it is, for me.

I spent 44 years in newspapers, 41 as a sports writer.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t go to concerts and the ballet. Well, I didn’t go to the ballet.

I didn’t listen to much music, either. I mean the only song I know all the words to is the National Anthem. I’ve often said, if an event doesn’t start with the Star Spangled Banner, how do you know it actually started?

I did read the Dayton City Paper though. Well, I glanced through it. That’s what you do when you’re chomping on a slice of pizza and a free news rack beckons.

I knew the Dayton City Paper as an arts paper, a publication with a narrower focus than The Dayton Daily News, which has the daunting task of serving every part of the community.

That’s not going well these days, here or anywhere.

Frankly, the loss of ink-on-paper products has gone a lot quicker than I expected.

I thought the older generation – which I joined a long time ago – was growing with healthier age and was more inclined to read a newspaper or magazine than a tablet or cellphone.

But the print media won’t cater to those people – us – because, well, we don’t have the discretionary money.

Meanwhile, as newspapers such as The Daily News touted but actually diminished local coverage and dropped almost all local commentary, publications such as the Dayton City Paper have helped fill in the gaps, both at the newsstand and on line.

I’m not certain what the circulation is around here, or the finances, or that anybody cares about my take on sports. I was asked to provide a sports column without scores, and to me that meant stories that relate to today but were never really for an all-purpose newspaper such as The Daily News.

Most of these stories I’ve never written before. They’re an answer to all those people who pointed out how lucky I was to have a good seat at a game, and plenty of free food to eat.

Well, the food isn’t free anymore. And the seat comes with a long fact-gathering mission before the game, and a longer one after it. That’s part of the job, and something you don’t need to know, except looking back, the stories make amusing anecdotes.

There was life before cellphones. I’m going to tell you what it was like, and what it was like to cart around the early cellphones and entry-level computers.

The Dayton City Paper is an outlet for all that. It’s an outlet for art and the arts, for classical music and garage bands, for opera and nostalgic concerts, for ballet and bar-floor dancing.

It has conspiracy theory views and more logical views.

It has been an outlet for 25 years, I’m told. Oh, to be 25 and able to celebrate all night. A newspaper start-up plowing into the heart of folding media. It must be something like starting a business in 1929.

The Dayton City Paper has survived 25 years, and is looking for more.

And now, I’m in it. One day I was just puttering around on my blog. The next day, I was called about doing a sports column. I calmly stated the Dayton City Paper didn’t do sports. I was told this was going to be a little off the beaten path. I didn’t actually have to put on a tie.

I said I didn’t wear a tie much anymore, so that was no problem.

I did read Vanity Fair, GQ and Esquire. The young staff at the Dayton City Paper looked out the window.

I did tell them I know Neal Gittleman, and we talk. Well, I talk when we’re talking baseball, and Gittleman knows his baseball. He talks when we discuss the Philharmonic, while I eat a cookie.

I also know Michael Roediger at the Dayton Art Institute, where I often look at pictures. I mean drawings. I mean paintings.

Roediger wants me to take a class and become a docent.

That would be different.

What is way different is having my work at the entrance to the Dayton Art Institute, the Victoria Theatre, public libraries, most restaurants.

Imagine that.

Happy Birthday, Dayton City Paper. How about some cake and ice cream?

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Marc Katz
Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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