After shuffling around in the comfortable disciplines of newspapers for 70 years or more I step nervously into the intimidating speed and volume of the Internet’s tidal wave of information.
Not that I have to. Pensions and some super cautious investments will keep me modestly fed and cared for until the final curtain drops, but, given the time, I have a few things to say before then.
Some minor stuff like the use the cryptic number -30- used to end my final Sunday column in the Times-Colonist, once separately and jointly, among the finest newspapers in Canada. Some more serious like the days before amalgamation when The Times and The Colonist each had highly competitive publishers and editors, and reporters whose daily ambition was to get a better story than their counterpart across the street.
They were the days when modest profits and the desire to inform and educate readers and lead in community enterprise were the highest priorities, and publishers were proud to have their name listed high on the editorial page masthead.
And all stories ended with -30- but I can’t explain why. Not with a guarantee of authenticity, anyway. I was taught in my formative years that when stories were first boosted around the world by telegraph 30 was a code transmission operators tapped out for “transmission finished”.
Reporters, always looking for a little glamour with a touch of mystery, made 30 their own.
Others say back before the typewriter stories were written in long hand and X marked the end of a sentence, XX the close of a paragraph and XXX – in Roman numerals 30 – the end of the story.
Whatever its birth place -30- was tradition for generations of news writers and we typed it automatically at the end of every story, short or long, until they took away typewriters with their tattered blue ribbons and replaced them with computers. The -30- disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared decades earlier but I have no idea why. One journalism school in the USA offers an extra credit for the student who can solve the mystery. It has never been claimed.
I shall try and make my comments here on a minimum weekly basis but probably more often as time goes by and I get used to the ready availability of space any and everyday. There may be a gap after April 14 when I’m due for surgery, but being assured that if all goes well I’ll be back home one or two days later I should find a regular rhythm before April ends.
When ringmaster son Nic has the site up and running to satisfaction readers will be able to comment freely – on me or my topics. But I deliver an early warning: the comments may be critically blunt, but they must also be respectful. Vulgar language and innuendo will bring a quick loss of privilege so let’s keep exchanges strong but courteous.
And I’ll be back soon.