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On the Ball

Like fast trains and beagles, you’ve got to move to catch the news

A new year runs like Acela Express. After the brief slowdown as it pulls into the station on January 1, it doesn’t take long to get up to speed. Soon the days are zooming by at 70mph — with occasional rushes double that rate.
    So we, too, had better be on the ball, or we’ll be behind it.
    Forgive me for mixing metaphors, but I can’t resist. It ­wasn’t too many new years ago that I learned the railroading history of on the ball. To get it right, the ball needs a capital B for the Ball ­watches so true that train schedules were set by them. In this age of time by computer and smart phone, Balls are still made, sold and worn. At premium prices; Ball bought the back cover of The New York Times Magazine a week or so ago. If you want to see for yourself, Little Treasury Jewelers in Gambrills sells Ball watches — along with other premium timepieces — for men and women.
    Behind the ball is a metaphor of another kind, borrowed from the game of billiards, where being behind the black eight ball can block a shooter’s opportunity.
    I learned the roots of both those metaphors writing newspaper stories, and that’s one of the reasons I consider every day I go to work a good day.
    Journalism gives you permission to pursue your curiosity. That’s what I tell the many aspiring writers who answer the News Hound ad you see most weeks in our pages.
    This time of year has me replying to inquiries most every day. You’re on the ball, I say, and good for you because stories rise from an energetic flow.
    Tell me you want to join Bay Weekly’s pack of news hounds, and I’m going to ask you if you’re ready for the chase.
    “We want news hounds, not couch hounds,” says general manager Alex Knoll.
    Beagles are the kinds of hounds we need, eager to sniff out Chesapeake Country stories.
    As we cover a region made up of two counties, we’re looking for good human interest stories that appeal to readers from Severna Park to Solomons. A Bay Weekly story succeeds by focusing on theme rather than locality, rising above place — though stories often start with one person, one place, one time, one experience.
    Bob Melamud found this week’s feature, Swept up in the Trivia Wave, at a bar. He enjoyed playing trivia, saw a pattern and documented it throughout Chesapeake Country. In writing about it, he turned us onto the fun. I want news hounds to hunt down stories like that, introducing our 50,000 readers to a timely person, place, event, issue or opportunity and taking them beyond facts to understanding.
    News hound Diane Burt scored in last week’s issue with oysterman Donald Sheckells ( He’s a Shady Side local, but his story has themes that touch readers anywhere, from aging out of the work you love to oysters, a resource whose restoration is a state promise.
    What’s Bay Weekly’s next best story going to be? You tell me. News hounds are always welcome at Bay Weekly.

Another Species of Hound
    From each new year, novelty is what we hope for. For Bay Weekly’s 21st year, we’re aspiring beyond novelty to oddity. Our dream is a serialized graphic story rising out of daily life in Chesapeake Country. Cartoonists, comic book artists and graphic novelists, apply here! [email protected] waits to hear from you.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; [email protected]