I’ve published a couple of gloomy columns, especially for this time of year, but I think they are noteworthy.
December 16 is the anniversary of Walter Blackburn’s death. He died 30 years ago today, I read in the Geezers’ newsletter, produced by Bill Jory, a former Free Press staffer.
I didn’t know Blackburn, although his daughter Martha was there when I first arrived at The Free Press.
It was a gloomy day when the Blackburn family sold the paper. It felt as if someone had died. I remember giving an interview to the St. Thomas Times-Journal about the sale of the paper. The T-J, as it’s known, would become a sister paper of the Free Press, under ownership of Sun Media.
Walter also created CFPL-TV, celebrating its 60th anniversary (now CTV London), where I am employed.
Jory’s newsletter says when Walter died the paper was “altered forever.”
Add in the technological revolution under way in media and the paper and TV station have both been forever changed. And will continue to change. One day you will only read the newspaper online.
In the heyday of the Blackburn era, news far afield was covered, not just in Southwestern Ontario.
Bill Corfield, who died earlier this month at 93 1/2, his obit says, was hired as a reporter/pilot. He joined the Free Press in 1945.
And he piloted a a twin-engine Cessna, called the News Hawk that Blackburn purchased. He covered events across the country.
I interviewed Corfield in 2008 when he had just published one of his books.
I had no idea that The Free Press once had a plane. Amazing.
Here’s the story I wrote about Corfield. I really enjoyed meeting him and learning some of the history of the place where I worked for 17 years. His obituary said he last flew at age 90.
It’s sad to think how much things have changed in the business. And for those who remember the Walter Blackburn era, sadder still.
Will newspapers survive, even online? Or will it be an altogether different animal?
What about TV stations?