Reports are circulating that former city mayors Mari Rodin and Mary Ann Landis have been contacting potential financial backers in an effort to purchase the Ukiah Daily Journal; they have said they are “willing to take over as co-editors” of the paper. The following Three Act Play imagines their regime...
Mari Rodin: We did it! We got it! A million dollars! Oh, Doug Bosco and Pete Golis rock! The Press Democrat is like giving us this grant money because we’re doing good!
Mary Ann Landis: Exactly! We’re giving back to the community by paying it forward. We’re going to create a sustainable, vibrant communication model that serves those less fortunate. It’s like karmic. Being new editors reminds me of when we were little kids and we got to put on those shows — remember? Your mom made the costumes and my dog was the pony and we did that really neat variety show out in the barn behind the Fetzer Ranch. I sang “Over the Rainbow” and you wore your Wonder Woman costume for the very first time. How exciting!
MR: And this is even better! This is even more exciting than when we were on the city council, which really rocked, at least for the first few weeks before we had to read all those reports and stuff. But we sure got to go to a lot of conventions and tell people we were mayors.
MAL: We’ll still get to go to a lot of seminars and conventions, except now we’ll mingle with hot journalists, like from the New York Times and Seattle! Do they have a newspaper in Seattle? I hope so — we could go up there and see how editors there do stuff, like what they wear and how much they tip at those sidewalk cafes and stuff. And the editing part too, of course.
MR: Right. But first we have to go to work. Monday’s the big day. It’s our red carpet moment, our coming out party to bring new journalism to Ukiah! Rip out the front page! Make way for a real story—US! I can’t wait!
MR: …and new carpet in my office, and it has to match my outfit and my new desk and the leather chair that’s getting delivered tomorrow. And lamps. This fluorescent stuff makes me look old. We’ll need stained glass lampshades. And dimmer switches.
MAL: An espresso machine in the editor lounge, that’s mandatory. And valet parking. And where are the keys for the company cars? Does Prius make a limousine? And who are those people? Did someone leave the door open and the homeless got in? Where’s security?
MR: I’ll call Chris Dewey. Oh wait! Maybe they’re reporters — I see Justine what’s-her-name over there. The one who used to write mean-spirited things about us. I thought when we got rid of KC Meadows that she’d leave too. But I’m glad, actually, because it will be fun to fire her.
MAL: I know! Let’s fire EVERYBODY! It’ll be so killer! I mean, we’re a corporation now so we can downsize and outsource and do that bottom-line thingie like in the movies. Line up everybody in that advertising department and I’ll make the announcement! A new broom sweeps clean and all that. And the people delivering papers — we need to get workers loyal to us. We can hire all our old campaign volunteers for jobs like that. We should keep Carol Brodsky and Karen Rifkin though, because they’re nice and they share our vision.
MR: (Phone rings.) I don’t know, let me ask Mary Ann. Hey do you know anything about a deadline or something? It’s some guy in a printing press. Whatever. Says we missed it.
MAL: Men! Always trying to tell us what to do because they’re afraid of strong independent powerful women breaking glass ceilings. Is “deadline” a threat? Is it harassment?
MR: I’ll ask the male person who used to be my significant other. Maybe he can get a warrant or a restraining order or something. I know a lot of important people, you know.
MAL: Me too. That’s how we got the Press Democrat to buy us the Journal, remember?
MR: Which reminds me — we should start doing the journalism part at some point. I think we need to assign stories or make pictures to show Ukiah in a positive light. Do we still have picture takers and story people writers or does the Press Democrat do that part for us?
MAL: I’ll call Glenda Anderson and find out. Maybe she could be a writer story newspaper person for us. I’ll tell her we’ll double her salary if she comes to work for us.
MR: Triple it. I mean we’ve got a grant for a million dollars. They wouldn’t have given it to us if they didn’t want us to spend it. Like for those little tile pedestrian walkie things, or new downtown benches or raises for Jane Chambers. If we don’t spend it, someone else will.
MAL: Speaking of Jane, we had a few hours open yesterday and we spent it at Patrona’s. I told her it’s a brand new era, and that we’re going to work together with the city to make Ukiah a better place. More progressive and vibrant. No need for all the negativity and bad vibes, and she said she was on board 100%. As a show of faith she said the city will put up one of those outdoor seating areas on the sidewalk out front. Big umbrellas and little tables and everything. It’ll give us a place to go to get out of that gloomy newspaper building. Work is supposed to be fun, right?
Phone rings. Rodin picks up. Yeah, whaddya want? (in snarly voice) I’m the editor, that’s who, and I’m working on a headline on the lede. It’s a front-pager, buddy! Who’s this? Oh, hi Mr. Gullixson. No, not yet. Well, you certainly don’t expect us to put out one of these news publication journalisms every day, do you?!? We’ve been awful busy, and besides, we’re thinking about working on a big special edition. It’s going to celebrate diversity and community with a Shop Local angle once we get our reporter consultant in Monterey to submit a bid. Jeez, chill off, dude! Things are fine. It’s not like readers are complaining about the paper not coming out or anything.
(Tom Hine who writes under the TWK byline, is reported to be among the first to go when the new bosses take over. Can’t wait!)