By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
I had an interesting conversation with a young girl on Friday. We were discussing what she liked to the read in the newspaper, what would prompt her friends to pick up a copy and what exactly discourages teenagers from reading what’s in the news.
At age 17, Jennifer Garcia has a pretty good head on her shoulders. In fact, she was in the newsroom this week completing community service hours for the San Benito High School National Honor Society, of which she hopes to be accepted as a proud member. She helped us in much the same capacity as an intern would, not to mention being afforded a chance to see a couple of seasoned reporters in action.
While I’d venture to say that there are not too many people like Jennifer walking around, much of what she shared with me concerning her opinions on newspapers today parallel with sentiments commonly expressed about our industry. The No. 1 determining factor in deciding whether she’ll read a newspaper, for instance, is if there’s crime reported on the front page.
Like many of us (I’m guilty), there’s a certain macabre element that drives our fascination with violent crimes and the investigations that painstakingly piece together clues in efforts to solve complicated cases. It’s been romanticized in literature, film and music. So it’s no wonder why Jennifer serves as yet another example of intellectual youth intrigued by true crime, the psychological aspects of cases – with regard to both the victims and the suspects – and what drives the detectives to catch their man or woman as well as the tools at their disposal.
She then admitted that there was something about a recent double homicide in Brownsville that piqued her interest; likewise, Jennifer said the “weird” circumstances related to such crimes are equally as riveting. I suppose, however, because this one happened in her backyard it was even more compelling a story.
The great thing about Jennifer is that, while she’s not alone in her interests, it was refreshing to hear from a teen who didn’t gush about Iggy Azalea or “hanging out with friends” when asked what she liked. She actually took a minute, collected her thoughts and gave an honest answer. Granted, a supervisor asked her a question that obviously prompted her to not only act interested but offer a thoughtful reply. Then again, admitting to a journalist that you wouldn’t pick up their newspaper unless crime was plastered on the front page takes some guts.
In a time when the majority of our criticism comes from hypocrites who lament about all the “bad news” in the paper yet flock to newsstands the moment that the latest scandals, controversies or crimes are reported, Jennifer’s unabashed honesty was most welcomed.
Thanks again, Jen.
Speaking of crime, I’d like to ask the community for assistance in helping us catch those responsible for trashing our newsstands. Consider that while taking a few more copies than what you pay for is one thing, discarding or taking all of them is another thing entirely.
In some instances, our newsstands have been found with papers thrown at the base of the machines (where they’re not visible to the public) and the coupons removed. What follows are phone calls from readers wondering if we’re going to restock the racks. There was one particularly frustrating day when, while at a viewing for a friend’s father, I was asked if I had any additional copies of the newspaper that featured his dad’s obituary, a story and column from yours truly that were all published in that edition. The plan was to use the papers as keepsakes and to distribute around the funeral home; and yet this didn’t happen due to the selfish actions of a few.
Please call us at (956) 399-2436 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to share any suspicious activity you may witness at our newsstands. I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for though, but let’s start with a license plate number.