Monday, April 16, 2018

Key West The News

Dear Readers,
Unfortunately The Blue Paper has not been able to reach its financial goal and I have decided to step down as the Editor in Chief.
A heartfelt thank you to the 99 people who have pledged monthly support to keep this important mission going. Thank you to those who have contributed through one time donations, large and small, over the years. Without you we would not have been able to continue our efforts for this long.
I also want to thank those of you who have contributed to TBP’s mission with articles, letters, poetry, photography, and your own important investigative journalism work.  We have greatly appreciated your contributions and are proud to have shared this platform with you.
There is, of course, still much to be investigated and reported on: affordable housing, hurricane Irma recovery, school safety and discrimination, hospitals and health care, overdevelopment, immigration enforcement, animal welfare, accountability and transparency in government…
Arnaud Girard is still exploring the possibility of keeping TBP alive.  Arnaud welcomes any support and creative ideas that would help him to keep the mission going. You may contact him directly at 305-731-7299.
[Patreon billing will be halted [no further auto payments will be incurred].  I will contact Paypal patrons individually to ensure their billing is individually shut down. Anyone who feels they would like to receive a partial refund for their most recent [April] monthly donation [since we are halting publication mid-month] please contact me directly at]  
My best to you all!
~ Naja Girard

The Blue Paper in it's latest incarnation, electronic, was the last survivor of the era of ferocious journalism in the Lower Keys.  There is still the six-day-a-week Citizen that just underwent some rather tight pruning of upper management presumably to restrain costs by giving the publishing family direct control, but the Keynoter, the local edition of the Miami Herald publishing empire recently folded it's print newspaper and is operating electronically with two reporters. The Herald itself stopped home delivery not so long ago and the Citizen has expressed concern about it's inability to find delivery people. Of course in a true capitalist economy wages would be increased but in the Keys lamentation increases in inverse proportion to the wages offered.

In the good old days the weekly Solares Hill was a paper I enjoyed with its irreverent look at the week's events and its occasionally odd obsession with the President Kennedy murder and the tentacles of  corruption that spread through Cuba and Miami and...Stock Island. The Blue Paper was a feisty piece of journalism even then at the hands of the irrepressible Dennis Reeves Cooper who either blasted the locally powerful with recent scandal or lacking any ammunition he would fill his pages with repeat performances of past scandals. No one read the paper but everyone who was anyone knew every word it printed and hated it. Now it is pretty much done. 

From distant November 2007 this essay I wrote about the publications of the time:

When I travel I like to pick up the local paper to hold in my hands the daily goings on. At home where all the print is available online, I still cherish the pleasure of messing my fingers with newsprint, connecting to a 250 year tradition of formalizing gossip and word-of-mouth on a properly printed page. My face isn't online- its in the broadsheet!
As small towns go Key West has lots of papers to choose among for information. I've assembled a modest selection which I like to read each week, and though there are others, the only publication dedicated to gay goings on has gone out of business (in a flurry of predictable accusations of non payment etc among the principals. Small town scandal on the front pages).
The Key West Citizen has focused on local news and does a decent job of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted, as the saying goes. Page Two features the Citizen's Voice, a column of anonymous call-ins from usually upset neighbors. Page Three includes my all time small town favorite feature the "Citizen of the Day," fully dressed of course.The Citizen is the only daily published locally, which is delivered in the early hours to my driveway for $102 per year. It is the paper of record and Cooke Communications, an independent publishing family, has assembled a modest empire in the Keys. They also have an interest in 104.1 US One radio in Big Pine which has a modest local news operation including interviews with local bigwigs (Very Important People Only!) at 8am with the local voice Bill Becker, an interviewer who wouldn't know a hard question if it forced itself down his throat.

The Citizen isn't a bad paper with its steady diet of local news from around the Keys. From time to time it'll avoid offending VIPs on particularly touchy issues, so sometimes its more a matter of observing what they've left out rather than included, to get an idea whats going on. The Citizen's Voice is the source of irritation among Important People, and the anonymous comments are the first place we all go after we open the paper. Each Thursday the Citizen also puts out a harmless Arts supplement called Paradise! which I find rather bland and generally goes the way I send the daily sports section- into the recycling bin. But that's just my taste.

The other outlets from Cooke Communications include a Marathon- based free weekly, the Free-Press, which comes to Lower Keys subscribers each Wednesday.Its a way to fight back against the inroads of the Miami Herald which sells and delivers all around the Keys. The Citizen does a much better job of covering local news, not least with the Friday free offering of Solares Hill.
This paper started out as an alternative weekly aimed at irritating the powers that be and sounding an irreverent voice against the all powerful Citizen. It was a paper that barely made economic sense in a town where people fished or drank as expressions of intellectual activity. When Cooke bought Solares Hill its imminent demise was widely predicted, but that never came to pass. Now under Nancy Klingener's leadership Solares Hill has flourished as a source of in depth prickly commentary and real arts news. It is the highlight of my newspaper perusal, arriving every Friday, carefully wrapped inside my Citizen delivery.

What to say about the Blue Paper? More properly known as Key West The Newspaper, the free weekly that describes itself as the home of "Journalism as a Contact Sport"? This is the critic that anybody who is somebody in Key West wants silenced, even more than the Citizens' Voice column in the daily paper.
Dennis Reeves Cooper is seen around town wearing a ragged beard, as every rebel should, accompanied by a black Labrador who rides alongside him in his silver convertible. Cooper is an old school style of yellow journalist, always criticized, though never do critics succeed in proving that he gets his factswrong though his idle speculation often falls wide of the mark. For instance when he wrote that a past police chief had had a previous sexual liaison with a juvenile boy he was never shown to be wrong. When he publicizes the embarrassing sources of funding in election campaigns everyone involved screams blue murder but they can't show he's wrong. He exposed to all and sundry a tawdry sexual affair the mayor got invovled in, and no one could contradict him because it was true, apparently. He's not someone I'd have round to dinner, he's rather too abrasive, but his paper is a must read in Key West, and one prays never to find oneself the object of his scorn.These days the current Key West Police Chief is his target, and Cooper's attentions make life for the rest of us inside the police station a fair resemblance to hell on earth.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the good news paper, a sickly publication called Conch Color,published by Tom Oosterhoudt a well known Conch:He wants to spread good news which generally means kow-towing to the rich and powerful and filling the broadsheet pages with lots of color pictures in the style of a social diary. Its pretty saccharine stuff, harmless were it not responsible for yet more mulched trees, and easily ignored.

I'd rather read Key West, another all color publication that comes out monthly, features excellent photographs and a decent attempt at literary journalism even though it describes itself as a lifestyle publication.Its the sort of magazine I thumb through in doctor's offices and the like, as it has lots of pictures of hip people being hip, in hip island homes. From time to time it features people I can claim a passing aquaintance with, which I find shocking.

The Miami Herald has a bureau or two in the Keys and attempts a few column inches of local news. those efforts are supplemented by the twice weekly Keynoter a paper that bulges with classifieds but is of limited interest to a Citizen subscriber, who gets updates daily, The Keynoter comes out afternoons and can sometimes publish events the same day they happen, thus scooping the Citizen.I like the Keynoter on our streets mostly because it shows that the two paper concept is struggling to stay alive in the Keys where most American cities can't claim that anymore. Its not an even struggle and as long as the Citizen stays hard on the heels of local news it remains an indispensable read to keep a finger on the pulse of local affairs- literally and figuratively.

And they are all presented on the Internet, because the modern Keys live and die online. And for some strange reason people everywhere want to know whats going on in the island chain.
I love my news when it comes in print, so many words to fuss over.