Opinion » Bill Cope

Cope Pushes Papers

Red bets on blogs

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"Tells y' whad, Cope. Since'n y' lost y'r job wit' d' Bo-zy Wiggly, yew c'n come t' work f'r me, b' only if'n y' promsisses not t' start no unions. An' y' got t' take y'r pay in dollar bills what's ah passes t' ya' un'er a table so's ah don' have nuddin' t' do wit' d' Eyeress."

"What are you talking about, Red? You don't even have a job, let alone a business."

"Wull ah'm a gerna have me a bidness, an a dang good un. Ah'm startin' me up one o' dem blaawg bidnesses where's d' people'll come t' keep up wit' curren' events. Ah figures how now all d' newspupers is goin' ker-flooey, ah'll get more bidness than ah'll be able t' handle b' m'self. An' dat's whars yew come in, Cope. Say, d' y' know anyt'in' 'bout designin' up one o' dos' ... what'r dey call 'em? ... Web sighs?"

I'd run into Red at St. Vincent's. I was looking for a cheap sports jacket and he was shopping for shoes.

"So, you're starting your own blog, huh? Got a name picked out yet?"

"Shor do. Ah's a gerna call it 'Red Sez.'"

"That has a nice crackle to it."

"Lahk it? Ah'll have all d' lastess news on 'er, too. See, ah'll lissen to Rush ever' day, den write whade'er he said on 'Red Sez.' Den ah'll lissen to Hantitty, an' write whade'er he said. But den, see, ah'll go d' exter step, juss lahk dose news kids on channel eight does, and ah'll lissen t' O'Reilly and write whade'er he said. Ah figure dat's 'bout as 'in depth' as cov'erge is a gerna get."

"Whooo-ee. Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly. Too bad they don't hand out Pulitzers to blogs, Red. You'd have one in the bag."

"Dat's wha' ah thought, too. S'cuse me a sec whiles ah try on deze wingtips."

The wingtips didn't fit. Neither did the sports coat I'd had my eye on.

"D' deal is, Cope, dat's a 'ho' lot o' writin'. So's if'n ah hire yews t' help me out, ah c'd do d' twitterin' one day and you c'd do d' blaawgin'. Den ever' udder day we c'd switch, wha' cha think? An' on slow news days, yews c'd clean up 'round d' yard some. Y' knows how t' prune up a shrub, don' cha?"

"Actually, Red, I'm still at the Boise Weekly. I didn't lose my job. Turns out, it was all an April Fool's joke."

"So d' Wiggly puper di'n't get sold t' Rumpert Murduck? Gull durn it! Ah was so hopin' 'Red Sez' 'ud pick up some dis-lah-lussioned hippies 'n' Nort' Enders. Now ah suppose y'r gonna tell me hows all dem udder newspupers ain't goin' ker-flooey."

"I'm afraid that's no joke, Red. Newspapers haven't been in this much trouble since before old Gutenberg invented his printing press."

"Y'r means t' say dat guy wha' was in Cocoon invented print machines? Dat makes sense. I di'n't fig're he c'd be makin' much a livin' from 'is actin' alone."

"Red, I'm curious. How is this blog business of yours supposed to turn into a money-making affair?"

"Sames way dey all do, ah s'pose. Once ah got 'bout a millyun hitsters comin' ever' day, ah'll start sellin' off liddle hunks o' empty room t' people who need some advertisin' done. Heck, ahs already signed up Jimmy's Small Engine Repair from o'er in Kuna, an' ah'm waidin' f'r a callback from Bernice over t' Bernice & Bob's Custom Meat Carvin' plant in Nampa. An' ah only juss thought up d' idee day 'fore yes'erday."

"Sounds like you're off to a bang-up start, buddy.

"Yuh. An' d' way ah fig'res id, d' faster dem newspupers go ker-flooey, d' faster ah's c'n start rakin' in dough from all dem advertisin'ers dey lef' behin'."

"Red, let me ask you something. Do you read a newspaper?"

"Nyuh! Not since dey quit showin' Li'l Abner in d' funnies."

"So where do you get your news? How do you keep up with what's going on?"

"Hain't yew b'n lissenin', Cope? Ah's al'ays knows wha's goin' on 'cause Rush 'n' Sean 'n' Big Bill tell me wha's goin' on."

"I mean here. I mean in your world, Red, not Limbaugh's or O'Reilly's. Like, what's going on with the county commissioners or the city council. Or the traffic or the air quality or the schools and the Legislature. Or obituaries and birth announcements. What's happening with the hospitals and the libraries and the planning and zoning. What's the state going to do about this or that, or what are the Forest Service or Fish and Game up to? Is there a scam going through that targets old people? Is there a predator in town targeting kids? The police and fire fighters ... somebody has to keep track of them. I mean, there's a hell of a lot of stuff you can't get from Rush or Sean or Bilious Bill, and most of it's in the newspapers and nowhere else, Red. And most of it is a lot more relevant to a citizen or a community or a state than all the blogs combined. That's what news is, Red ... what's going on around us. And a newspaper is like the nervous system that keeps a community's brain in touch with its heart and fingers and feet and skin. I'm telling you, if we don't keep paying at least some attention to all of it ... and not just to what a bunch of obsessive bloggers think is important ... we could end up losing a lot more than just our newpapers."

"So's y'r sayin' ah oughta make m' blaawg 'bout d' crud whads happ'nin' here local 'stead o' tryin' t' keep up wit' Madd Drudge?"

"No, Red. What I'm saying is, you ought to buy a newspaper and read it. Then do it again tomorrow and every day after. I don't give a damn what your blog is about, really, and it's not likely anyone else will, either. Far as I'm concerned, 90 percent of all the blogs I've seen are no more than some narcissist stroking his ego in public, hoping someone's watching."

"Yew'd bedder not led any blaawgers heyr y' say dat, Cope. Dey don' like f'r people t' say dey ain't bona fido jurn'lisses."

"Yeah ... well ... who cares? Most of them sit around waiting for a real reporter to report something, then they swap opinions about it until the next story comes up. If you ask me, most of the blogs are to journalism what online sex chat rooms are to true love. But good luck with 'Red Sez' anyway, bud. And make sure your Spellcope4.8-Check tool is in good shape before you start."

"Be hones', Cope. D' dese loafers make m' look fat?"

"No way, Red. You look great. Now let me help you pick out a pair of socks."