Was it a party, or a funeral?
December is generally a month for celebrations, so mourning often seems foreign and strange. And yet, at Wednesday Journal, Inc.’s holiday party, there seemed to be both.
Today marked the last-ever issue of Chicago Journal, the neighborhood newspaper I’ve edited for the last two years. Focused on a few areas surrounding downtown Chicago, it had a fiercely loyal following from its readership.
But much as it pains me to say, it’s hard to imagine another paper will follow in its footsteps. Killing trees to print information, after all, is not exactly cost-effective in the Internet age. It’s simply an excuse to charge more for advertising.
So, when my boss beckoned me into his office a few weeks ago to announce that my newspaper was done, it was a shock, but not really a surprise. The last issue was to be December 13, which also happened to be the day of the company’s holiday party.
As I walked in this evening, I was quickly met with a mix of hugs and sad smiles. Trays of pasta sat on heating lamps, bottles of beer sat in a cooler, plates of dessert sat in the wings.
It was like many holiday parties — clusters of people chatting, different groups vying for your attention. But the standard serving of cheer was replaced, instead, with pity and mourning.
“It was a great paper,” I heard over and over again. I agreed. I’d poured most of my life into the paper, and it was difficult to see it go. Freelancers commiserated as our editor offered assurances that yes, the website would be up for a little while longer.
It hurt to see the paper go. It hurt to see the people I’d worked with have the rug swept out from underneath them.
But just a little bit, it felt good to be moving on.
About the author: Ben Meyerson is a newspaper editor and reporter who lives in Logan Square. He thoroughly enjoys hockey, records and pretending his car's muffler isn’t going to fall off.