Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Hamilton Spectator

I recently wrote to Dana Robbins (picture), the outgoing Editor-in-chief of the Hamilton Spectator. Shortly after I wrote him, he announced he was leaving the Spec to take on the post of Publisher of both the Kitchener Record and the Guelph Mercury newspapers.

I wish him well. I think the Spec has become a marvellous paper under his leadership. Its too bad I'm cancelling my subscription. I explained why in my letter to him below:

Mr. Robbins:

I love the Hamilton Spectator. I always have. Its not only because I've written for the paper twice (a Spec Huddler in 1984 and a member of the Community Editorial Board 2000-2001), but I happen to think you run a high-quality operation.

My one hour in the morning with the Spec is the highlight of my day. I love sprawling on the couch with a cup of coffee while my partner and baby are still sleeping. This is a ritual I have been undertaking for ten years since I returned from studies out west. I used to read the paper on my stomach on the living room floor growing up. I consider those who write (and have written) for the Spec as close friends, if not family. My favourites over the years have included Don Lovegrove, Wade Hemsworth, Tami Paikin-Nolan, Mike Davison, Tony Fitzgerald (even back when he had the black fro'), Alge Borusas and many others whose names I can't even remember. Your current crop delight me every morning with their observations, insight and witticisms. These include Terry Cooke, Andrew Dreschel (even though he hates road runners), Lorraine Summerfeld and even that annoying Sheryl Nadler, pretentious head shot and all. Sometimes I wish she'd take her thinly-veiled husband search to your parent paper up the highway, where she wouldn't have to bemoan the absence of funky lofts and gay art culture. She seems to spend all her weekends there anyhow. But I digress.

I am having a crisis of conscience that I thought you may like to help me with. As much as I love - LOVE - my daily ritual of reading the Spec (I always start with the front section, cover to cover, and then the Go section, leaving the comics to the end. I won't tell you what I'm doing by the time I get to the Sports section), I am feeling increasingly uncomfortable as a home subscriber. Every Wednesday night when I put out the blue box I can't help but feel a twang of conscience at the amount of paper that has accumulated over the week. When I go to school on a daily basis and see the number of copies of the Spec that are consumed, or in many cases ignored in a pile in our main office, I get visions of clearcuts and greenhouse gasses and overflowing landfills.

I know, I and many others are recycling our newsprint and I'm certain the Spec makes every effort to use recycled paper in their massive daily circulation, as do hopefully most other broadsheets and tabloids on the planet. But is it really enough? Disgraced, and now ex, Conservative M.P., Garth Turner has recently commented about the age of "digital democracy". Can the same be said for news media? Every major news outlet on the planet, newspapers included, have websites. What you can access in your daily paper, you can get on-line. You can even purchase an unlimited amount of daily comics, delivered to your e-mail inbox, for about ten bucks a year!

Mr. Robbins, I'm thinking of cancelling my subscription. This would have seemed unthinkable to me even a year ago. However, I recenlty became a father and have been thinking more and more about the planet I want to leave for my son when I'm gone. I'm cycling to work every day, even in the winter. We've just purchased a new extremely high-efficiency furnace. We're slowly but surely replacing all lightbulbs in our home to those ridiculously low-wattage, yet oddly shaped ones. As much as it pains me, I think my daily Spectator may be the next thing to go.

There are obvious drawbacks for both you and me. For you, the business is all about circulation. You need to reassure advertisers that your paper is reaching however-many-hundreds of thousands of homes on a daily basis. If everyone else does what I am thinking of doing, you start having problems meeting your payroll. You may even have to lay Sheryl Nadler off from her photographer job! For me, I lose the luxury of my daily ritual of sprawling across the couch, hot cup of coffee in hand, with my paper copy of the There's only so much sprawling you can do if you're reading the paper on a laptop.

Do you have any insights to offer me as to how I can reconcile the pleasure I receive of taking the Spectator out of my mailbox at 6:15-6:45 on a daily basis with my increasing desire to do more and more to save the planet? If not, I may be forced for the first time in my entire life (at least that spent in the Greater Hamilton area) of living in a home that does NOT have a Spectator subscription.

Mr. Robbins, talk me out of this!

Rich Gelder


  1. Anonymous6:55 PM

    Тhanks for sharing your thoughts. I tгulу appгeciate your efforts and Ι am waitіng for youг further ωrite uρs thank you once agaіn.

    Look at my homepage Chemietoilette

  2. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Woаh! I'm really enjoying the template/theme of this site. It'ѕ simple, yet effective.
    A lot of times it's hard to get that "perfect balance" between usability and visual appeal. I must say that you've dοne a amazing jοb with thіs.
    In addition, the blog loads verу fаst fоr me on Іnternet exploгer.

    Excеptionаl Blog!

    My blog post ...

  3. Anonymous7:08 AM

    Woω that waѕ odd. I ϳust wгote an ѵery long сomment but after I cliсkеd
    ѕubmit mу comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm nоt
    writing all that ονеr again. Anywayѕ, juѕt wantеԁ to say excellent blog!

    my web-sіte