THE PUBLISHING TREE
And then one day the journo came back and the newspaper shook with joy and she said, ‘Come, Journo, write about weed and injustice and be happy.’
Once there was an alternative newspaper … and she loved a little journalist.
And everyday the journalist would come and gather information and make it into stories and play king of the media.
He would get drunk and spend book advances and eat acid.
And they would play hide-and-go-tweak.
And when he was tired, he would do blow.
And the journalist loved the newspaper … very much.
And the independent publication was happy.
But time went by.
And the journalist grew older.
And the newspaper fell on hard times.
Then one day the journo came to the paper and the paper said, “Come, Journalist, come and write about sex and get drunk and eat acid and be happy.”
“I am too big to write and party all day,” said the reporter. “I want to buy things and have fame. I want some money. Can you get me a job in New York? DC?”
“I’m sorry,” said the weekly, “but I have no money. And my contacts are dried up — somehow, all the editors at those places are like 32. I have only space for you to write and free concert tickets. Take my tickets, Journo, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.”
And so the journalist contacted some publicists and gathered up a bunch of freebies and carried them away. And the newspaper was happy. But the journo stayed away for a long time … and the paper was sad.
And then one day the journo came back and the newspaper shook with joy and she said, “Come, Journo, write about weed and injustice and be happy.”
“I am too busy for social justice,” said the journalist. “I want to get on the Daily Show, and I just applied for a job at Upworthy,” he said. “I want fame and a podcast, and so I need more followers on social media. Do you know anyone who works at Twitter?”
“I have no contacts,” said the aging alt rag. “Street boxes are my home, but you may use our intern to get more followers on social media. Then you will be happy.”
And so the journalist used the intern to carefully manage his Twitter and Instagram accounts. And the newspaper was happy. But the journo stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the alt was so happy she could hardly speak.
“Come, Journo,” she whispered, “come and write. Hit this joint — we have medical marijuana now!”
“I am too old, sad, and burnt out to write or vape,” said the journalist. “I want a boat that will take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?”
“Use some of our old street boxes and make an ark,” said the newspaper. “Then you can sail away with two issues of all the great magazines that are no more … and be happy.”
And so the journalist took the last remaining boxes off the corner and made a boat and sailed away.
And the scrappy indie was happy … but not really. And after a long time the journo came back again.
“I am sorry, Journalist,” said the newspaper,” but I have nothing left to give you. My columns are gone.”
“My opinions are too weak for columns,” said the journalist.
“My distribution is gone,” said the newspaper. “You cannot reach people.”
“I sold out way too hard to reach your readers anyway,” said the journo.
“My ads are gone,” said the newspaper. “We cannot pay you.”
“I’ve heard that before,” said the journalist.
“I am sorry,” sighed the paper.
“I wish that I could give you something … but I have nothing left. I am just an old newspaper. I am sorry …”
“I don’t need very much now,” said the journo. “Just a quiet place to sit and rest and something decent to read. I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the newspaper, flattening herself out as much as she could, “well, this pile of archives is good for sitting and resting and reading. Come, Journo, sit down. Sit down and read. Smoke a joint.”
And the journalist did. And the alt weekly was happy.
Chris Faraone is the news and features editor of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He interpolated Shel Silverstein’s classic, The Giving Tree, in an attempt to shame hotshot journalists who cut their teeth in the alternative press but then forgot where they came from, and in hopes that such media elites might now give back to the grassroots with a donation to BINJ.