5.0 out of 5 stars Telling It Like It Was (and pretty much still is),November 12, 2012
This review is from: The Story of THE RAG! (St. Mary’s Today Newspaper) (Kindle Edition)
Once Ken decided to chronicle the goings-on in St. Mary’s County, MD, it was all over for the good old boys.
Until St. Mary’s Today hit the news stands, the surface tranquility of Maryland’s Mother County was protected by the complete lack of anything even resembling good news reporting. Gannett newspapers had an iron grip on the local newspapers, and their philosophy was always to make the advertisers look as good as possible with no regard for what was newsworthy. I know, because I worked for that chain in those days.
Ken and I were soldiers on the same battlefield in Southern Maryland. The weekly tabloid I started on my kitchen table, The Chesapeake Observer, took neighboring Calvert County by storm. We were the most-read newspaper in the area within six months of our start-up. This didn’t sit well with the two other papers in town, The Prince Frederick Recorder (my former employer) or The Calvert Independent. They mocked our tabloid format and they were horrified at our aggressive reporting, even as their advertisers fled their broadsheet pages for ours.
At the time, Ken was publishing a small, touristy weekly called The Blue Crab,, an 8 1/2 by 11 offset press publication stuffed full of local lore and, most importantly, local advertising. I picked up several copies of it one day and took them back to The Observer offices. Handing them out to my advertising staff, I said, “This could put us out of business.” I decided then to arrange a meeting with Ken, and discovered he and I were kindred souls.
The Story of The Rag is a true, unvarnished account of one man’s struggle to just print the truth. That may not sound heroic, but from personal experience, I can tell you that it very often really does involve acts of heroism. I saw Ken working 20-hour days, doing the jobs of reporter, editor, composition and layout, delivery and bookkeeping all at once. He was also a single father, devoted son, and good friend to a lot of people.
Everyone should read this book. It starkly portrays the real news papering world, as well as exposes the real world of political deal-making and corruption that remains Maryland’s hallmark to this day.
I read it in one very long sitting, because I couldn’t put it down. And it made me proud.