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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
News of the Day: Adventures of a Wildly Cantankerous Veteran Newsroom Saving Dying Newspapers by Peter Kelton is a satirical and perceptive look at the state of media today, especially the printed word, through the daily newspapers. When it is announced that yet another hedge fund has taken over a newspaper business, there are collective groans of dismay from the staff. A takeover invariably precedes lay-offs, asset stripping, and the eventual closure of a long-running, local and venerable institution known as the region’s newspaper. This time, however, it appears a hedge fund will be the “knight in shining armor”, the “savior” if you will. Having destroyed many local newspapers, a perceptive hedge fund manager has spotted a niche in the marketplace that is not being filled – local news. People are prepared to pay to read news of their community and its happenings. Many areas of the vast United States are now ill-served in this regard and research shows people still want to read about their communities in local newspapers. Using some super-secret 6G technology out of China and recruiting a team of veteran, many already retired, grizzled and cynical news-people, led by the notoriously cantankerous old editor, Burt, The News of the Day sets about to inform the community of everything from obituaries to stories about brown bears roaming the heartland and everything in-between. Has big business found a way to make yet more money and save the newspaper industry from extinction?
News of the Day was a refreshing welcome to my reading itinerary. Perhaps because I used to report for a community newspaper so much of the content was recognizable and reminiscent but, for whatever reason, I found this story to be perceptive, clever, and genuinely funny. Author Peter Kelton has indeed tapped into a universal desire out there for local news that is relevant to small communities that are currently being hopelessly served by the mainstream media. The ensemble cast of grizzled and hard-bitten ex-reporters that the author puts together in this narrative is instantly recognizable and brings levity and a suitable cynical tone to the whole escapade. I particularly enjoyed the camaraderie and relationships that formed between the reporters as they set off into areas of the country that many had never experienced before. Perhaps the most poignant and telling feature of this tale and the state of the industry was that so many of the reporters knew each other before this venture because they were continually having to move and change jobs as their papers were gobbled up and either drastically downsized or closed altogether. This story is presented as an at times farcical and over-the-top romp through the heartland of America but there is a deep underlying premise to it that resonates – that we citizens are being extremely underserviced by our media, especially as it relates to things that really matter to us – the communities in which we live. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and can highly recommend it.