No Future in the Past

I don’t know whether to feel disappointed or honored that my last day with the Bloomington Pantagraph is the same day that long-time Photo Editor David Proeber is relinquishing his camera and transitioning to a well-earned retirement status. 

David was a friend on the sidelines of local sporting events and produced some amazing images during his tenure with our local paper, both sports and features alike.

Although my contribution to “local journalism” pales in comparison to what David has chronicled for the Bloomington-Normal newspaper, I have, for the last nearly ten years, compiled a daily “Pages Past” containing historical snippets of sporting events that happened 5, 15, 25 and 50 years ago. I have no insight into what freeing David’s salary will do to Lee Enterprise’s bottom line, but apparently it wasn’t enough. My $100 monthly stipend was a casualty of the latest budget cuts, and Pages Past will be no more.

I’m not dejected in any manner; the recent minimum wage hike in Illinois probably means that the stipend for time I took to compile the content on a monthly basis fell below that threshold. Still, it was an enjoyable foray into the past, and I know there are many local friends and acquaintances that have told me it’s one of the first things they read daily.

Lee Enterprise, Incorporated, the owner of the Bloomington Pantagraph and other newspapers, saw their stock price close at $24.10 a share today (4/29/2022). Stockholders want returns on their investment, I get that. But as I’ve watched multiple friends lose their full-time jobs and livelihoods due to prior cuts at the newspaper, I wonder how long this trend can continue and still produce a viable community offering. With the now 3:30pm deadlines due to production decisions including printing the paper far enough away that they need the extra time for distribution, the news is often a day removed (at least the Sports page is).

I know the older demographic still reads the printed page, but even displaying Pages Past on the website is apparently too costly as Lee can’t afford the compiler (me).

I have always created the entries in advance, and recently told my friend and retired Illinois Wesleyan Sports Information Director Stew Salowitz that he would appear in May 4th entry for a high school game he excelled in 50 years ago. I’m not sure if that will ever run with this decision, so for Stew, I’ll list it here to make sure he gets the public notoriety and a chance to relive his prior glory. 

Congratulations David. And may Stew’s athletic feats live in on.

May 4

50 years ago (1972): Stewart Salowitz drove in the deciding tally in the top of the seventh inning as Central Catholic High School dropped Washington, 3-1, for sole possession of first place in the Corn Belt Conference. Salowitz also started the game on the mound and pitched five scoreless innings.

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