Post toast

It looks like the Paradise Post is about to be gobbled up by MediaNews, the same chain that ate the Enterprise-Record, the Oroville Mercury and the Red Bluff Daily News a few years ago (see Newslines, page 8). Maybe the deal will fall through, but most likely it will not. This is a shame. The Post is a good paper. I know the new owners will put the old “will continue to serve the community” spin on its purchase as they try to reassure readers on the Ridge. But it won’t be the same. I worked a couple of years at the Post about a decade ago. It was a great experience. Because the paper was connected to the profitable print shop in the back, it could just keep chugging along, no matter the circulation or the number of advertisers. And the owners, Lowell Blankfort and Rowland “Reb” Rebele, were top-notch. They visited the paper a couple times a year, and I remember once running into Reb in the restroom. I was washing my hands when he walked in. When I turned to dry my hands, I discovered that the paper towel dispenser was empty. I looked under the sink for a new roll and noticed the pipe trap was leaking. Next thing I knew, Reb and I were on our knees, heads in the sink cabinet, trying to fix the leak. When we were done and brushing the dust off our knees, Reb, who paid most of his attention to the business end of the paper, asked, “So do you work here?” I told him yes, that I was the associate editor. “Oh good, good, good,” he said. “You’re doing a fine job.”

Don’t ask me why, but that little episode really endeared me to the guy, though we probably never talked again. This week I called his home in Aptos and got his wife. I gave her my name, asked to talk to Reb and told her I used to work for the paper. She apologized for not remembering me. “I don’t have a very good memory anymore,” she said. I wanted to tell her not to worry about it and relate the story of Reb and me in the restroom. But I didn’t. She told me Reb was on the other phone. I could hear him talking. “I’ll have to call him back,” I heard him say. He never did. What would he say? I don’t suppose either Reb or Lowell is proud that they are selling their paper and printing press to MediaNews. But they are getting old and want out. Who but a large corporation would buy both a paper and a huge print shop? I’ve heard there was a lot of interest shown in the paper, but only MediaNews wanted both. So there it is. Another independent voice silenced, much to the detriment of the good folks of Paradise and Magalia.

I learned about the impending sale of the Post from Tim Crews of the Sacramento Valley Mirror. He told me he would break the story this week, but he was not able to get people to call him back and confirm it. At least from the Post. Wolf Rosenberg, publisher of the E-R, called both Crews and me back and made an allegation that the keys had yet to be handed over in the deal. “Still kicking the tires?” I said. He laughed and confirmed that part. I decided to go with the story after talking with a MediaNews spokesperson in Denver who said the deal was close to done and should be by next week. Anyway, I wanted to give Crews his due. As he said, “It’s a sad day for the industry.”

Belated congratulations to the Ohio State Buckeyes for recapturing, after a short 34 years, the college football national championship. When you are a sports fan whose allegiance lies in northern Ohio, you learn to savor your accomplishments. That 1968 championship team defeated a USC Trojan team that featured a running back by the name of O. J. Simpson. Remember him? Before that we had the Browns, who won the NFL championship in 1964, beating the Baltimore Colts 27-0. The Browns also won a couple of NFL titles in the 1950s. Then, of course, we can’t forget the Indians, who last won a World Series in 1948. Now that the Indians have returned to the sub-mediocre form they perfected in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, and the Cavaliers battle for the rights to pick Lebron James, very likely the only teen in Akron driving a brand-new Hummer, and the Browns, well, who knows, we can only ponder when the next championship season will come our way. As they say, pessimism dies hard in Cleveland.