John Hammer nails big media
Monday, February 04, 2013 9:00 PM
Saturday mornings are my favorite time in the office. Other than just a few folks coming and going, it's pretty quiet. The lights in the outer office are off and the phone isn't ringing. I can get a lot done in less time than it usually takes.
Quiet, peaceful, productive. So it was last Saturday and I was buried in paperwork. I was also noticing that either my eyes aren't what they used to be or these reports are in smaller type. I was squinting, more or less boring a hole in this sheet of paper-
I nearly jumped out of my seat. I swear when I looked up and saw John Hammer filling up my doorframe there was a hint of a smile on his face. I'm starting to think he sneaks up here on purpose.
For those unfamiliar with John Hammer, let's just say he's a large man who's in the autumn years of what looks like a long and hard life. He may be getting older but I'm betting he could still take on any three guys while eating a sandwich. He may be rough around the edges, but he's loaded with common sense, and like a lot of older guys, he's not extremely blessed with patience.
"Dang, John. You about gave me a heart attack," I started. "What brings you-"
"Timmons, I think you've been right all along about local media."
The way he said "local media" left little doubt that we probably aren't mentioned in his will.
"What do you mean, John?"
"Before I go to bed I always watch the news," he said in that rough, gravely voice. "I don't know why. Usually something in there that ticks me off and then I have trouble getting to sleep. The Mrs. says I ought to just go to bed and skip the news but I think we all need to know what's going on out there - or at least what the TV folks want us to know."
I had no idea where this was going.
"So do you know what I've been seeing and hearing for the last few weeks?"
"No idea, John."
"I'll tell you what I've been seeing and hearing, crap. That's what. Crap. Pure crap."
"Now John," I started, thinking I would explain that there are so many people watching that not everyone is going to agree. I didn't get that far.
"Can you tell me how Lance Armstrong is important?"
"Well John, he pretty much single-handedly put bicycling on the map and now that he's admitting he cheated-"
"Oh I get that," Hammer said. "He cheated and now it's out. How in the hell was it worth dominating the news for an entire week?"
Well . . .
"And then there's that Notre Dame football player who's apparently too stupid to know his girlfriend isn't real. There was another week. And then there's this crap over whether or not a football player ate deer antlers or something. And whether or not some singer with a weird name lip-synched a song. There's the New York Yankee who supposedly's been caught cheating again. And, oh yeah, there's some insane story about a couple right here in Indiana who are in trouble for nursing a deer."
He paused. Seemed out of breath.
"Timmons, there's no real value in those stories. We've got real issues out there. We've got crappy laws getting shoved down our throats, we've got a new governor and we may spend some of the reserves that everyone worked so hard to build back up, we've got a president who wants to spend billions on health care . . . those are real stories. But now I hear that the governor may get involved with the deer couple. Oh for crying out loud. He doesn't have more important things to do? I give up. Timmons, you know what those stories all have in common?"
"No idea, John."
"They were self-promoting, that's what. "In each case, some network or TV station used it to get people to turn to them. They aren't doing real reporting anymore. It's no wonder people think we're getting dumber as a society.
"I'll tell you what Timmons. You guys keep on covering local news. You keep on telling people about what Sen. Boots is trying to do to slow down an out-of-control federal government. You tell us about the schools, the high school sports. Tell us who was born and who passed away. That's life, Timmons. That's what's important. I've had it up to here with the other crap."
As he turned and started walking away he was mumbling. Last thing I heard before he got out of earshot was something about where the networks could put those deer antlers.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.