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.


  1. I know, Ianne. Anyway, onward. Maybe an electronic version of The Metro Post?

  2. too bad, Doms. Although an electronic version doesn't sound like a bad idea. There is something to be said about an actual newspaper you can touch, though.

  3. It will, one way or another, come back Dominique. Here in Naga, Bicol Mail used to be dead for at least two decades. It was buried years back, before I joined the local print media as proof reader in '88 when I was still in college.

    But the new generation of the Aureuses (the family behind the Mail) felt they have a responsibility to their elders and the community to resurrect the paper. Now, it's been churning out weekly issues for several years now, complemented by an online presence at http://www.bicolmail.com. The letters from abroad have been quite lively, and I guess they are pointing us the way.

    BTW, I used some of your points on insularism between the academe and local governments yesterday at the UP Bahay Kalinaw when asked about it. I did not realize the disjoint is quite pervasive, not only among university towns but other areas as well.

  4. Yup, Chaz, one reason I dropped Inquirer and stayed on with Metro Post was because I was actually seeing my work in PRINT. He he.

    Thanks, Willy, I'm much flattered. I do hope the Metro Post comes back. One difference, though, is that the Metro Post isn't family-owned. But I'll wait a few weeks and get a feel of what people are saying.

  5. so sad...it is the best newspaper in Dumaguete..

  6. electronic version?? hmmm (thinking) not bad, actually! but still, chada jud ang printed copy.. hehe