Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Requiem for a Newspaper

The news came yesterday by way of email, with an innocuous, generic heading: MetroPost. I don't know why, but I had a sense of foreboding. Just earlier that day, I received an SMS message from Irma, with the gentle reminder that could I please submit my column by Wednesday.

Lengthy preamble, addressing all the columnists of the paper, past and present. A celebration, perhaps? I hoped against all hope. Irma then continued with an upbeat tone, citing the gains that the paper had made in readership in Dumaguete.

And then, the core of the message. July 30, 2006 would be the last issue of the Metro Post.

Irma's message:
We are continuing to explore tie-ups with people who could continue to run the paper. But until we find somebody who would be in a position to invest for a good community newspaper, the MetroPost would have to come out with its last issue, at least temporarily, on July 30, 2006.

No, it's not yet the end, just a temporary hiatus, I tell myself. There's a glimmer of hope in there. Still, I can't help but feel a little sad. The Metro Post is the best damn community paper in Dumaguete City, miles ahead of the competition. And I'm not saying that because I write a column there. I'm saying it because it's so.

Of all the papers in Dumaguete City, it's the one that's made the most impact on the city as a university town. It wasn't just a glorified mouthpiece for political ends, nor was it just a vehicle for ads. The Metro Post actually represented, as best as it could, the voice of Dumaguetenos. For that, Irma and Alex deserve congratulations.

Writing for the Metro Post has not fulfilled my notions of making a living as a writer. But, darn it! I didn't care. I actually felt that I was making a difference in the community. And that was why I kept sending in my weekly column. All in all, they must count to over 200. "Rational Technology" might even be said to be my proto-blog, and even continued to be part of this blog's regular content.

So, for the moment, I'll live without the weekly deadline and the occasional theater review. I could view this whole thing as a break. Besides, I'll still get to meet Alex, Irma, Ian, Moe, Fr. Eking, Gilbert, and all the other Dumaguete-based contributors on occasion as they pass by the pharmacy. That's part of the charm of writing for a community paper.

Or, I should say, that was part of the charm. I hope the charm comes back soon.

Damn it, I just feel so sad.