Burton on the Bay

Vol. 8, No. 2
January 13-19, 2000
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New Bay Times or Bay Weekly?
It’s Reputation That Counts

What’s in a name? Doodle, it’s the reputation that counts, not the name. A name can’t make a reputation, but a reputation can make a name.

—Clara Clark Burton, circa 1932

Those words came back to me earlier today when I called this paper, where I’ve served as the non-resident curmudgeon for going on seven years, and the voice at the other end of the line answered “Good afternoon Bay Weekly /New Bay Times.”

Thank heavens I had been forewarned. Otherwise I’d have thought some media conglomerate had gobbled up New Bay Times. It happens regularly in these days when individual ownership and management of newspapers has become scarce, even among small sheets. It’s like the world underwater: The small are preyed on by anything bigger, the medium by the big and the big by the even bigger.

So we have changed our name. We’re now Bay Weekly, no longer New Bay Times as was our name since the first edition on an anniversary of Earth Day in April of ’93. But I understand if you give us a call in the next several weeks or so, you’ll hear both names respond — this to avoid any confusion. Perhaps also to spare any chance you might hang up and take your full page ad elsewhere.

I’m told the switch comes about to avoid any confusion between New Bay Times and another weekly by almost the same moniker on the other side of the Chesapeake. Just as important, we’re growing, we’re spreading out and want to insure our own identity.

Grandma’s Lecture

So what’s in a name? As Grandma said, “It’s the reputation that counts.”

I was in the first grade that day when Grandma tutored me on one of the important lessons in life. I was coming home from school in New England when we passed a young woman whose surname was associated with a rowdy family. I said to Grandma something along the lines ‘Oh, she’s one of those …’
That’s when I — known by Grandma as Doodle, after a long-gone comic strip character — got the lecture in Reputation 101. The young lady, I was sternly told, was a good church member, a diligent worker, had been a good student, and, had her parents and brothers spent less time at the Stagecoach Tavern, she would probably have been in college.

As usual, Grandma was right. The young lady not long thereafter worked her way through state normal school, ended up a good grade school teacher, married well and was a community leader the remainder of her long life.

But then, Grandma was always right. Like the time I saw old Mrs. Fox walking down the road attired in clothes that even at a young age I knew didn’t match well, clothes also worn threadbare. I snickered in boyish fashion, to be sternly reminded that “Doodle, it’s not the clothes. It’s whether they’re washed and mended.”

It was in the midst of the Great Depression. No money for clothes. Mrs. Fox was poor and didn’t have a grandmother like I did to make her neat and well-fitting duds from bleached cotton chicken feed sacks. Attire 101: Professor Grandma Burton, resident lecturer.

Back Home at Bay Weekly

So we’ve changed our name, but hopefully the reputation of New Bay Times will remain. We’re a curious, interesting and innovative paper. I consider us one of those new breed of publications referred to as alternative newspapers. From us you get not the earth-shaking news of the day from the Azores to Zihiman — which happens to be a little hamlet in Allegany County.

We like to do an assortment of things from keeping you abreast of how — among other things — you can better enjoy life in Chesapeake Bay Country; learning more of your neighbors and their curious interests and doings; understanding the status of the Chesapeake; and how to watch and interpret the galaxy — with so many extras added from News of the Weird, Astrology and Flickerings to Bay Soapbox, Dock of the Bay and the usual ramblings of this regular contributor almost from the start who describes himself as a “non-resident” member of the crew because you can count on one hand the times he has been at the Deale headquarters.

Old Times

Same paper, new name, and for me it’s another name to a long list in 52 years during which “Times” tops the list with five entries: the Uxbridge Times and Whitinsville Times, both of Massachusetts; Anchorage Times of Alaska; New Bay Times and, as Vermont stringer, the New York Times. There were three Journals: the Providence of Rhode Island, the Plattsmouth of Nebraska, and the Fishing & Hunting of Maryland. Plus the curiously named Banner of Bennington, Vt.

Add one each News, Call, Union, Republican, Transcript, Post, Herald, Globe and the Sunday Sun, the Sun and Evening Sun of Baltimore. And now a Weekly. There have been mastheads aplenty. This writer has punched out millions of words over the years, and the names haven’t meant a damned thing.

But Not All Names Are Equal

But some names bother me. Like when some big business wants to get in on the act, as when Nokia buys the rights to the Sugar Bowl so when football players toss the pigskin around the media is expected to say “the Nokia Sugar Bowl.” Thankfully they didn’t do much earlier this month. It was mostly just Sugar Bowl. Take that, Nokia.

Or how about the couple hundred million dollars PSI Net shelled out for being the name of the Baltimore Ravens stadium? That deal enriched team owner Art Modell, who had the stadium built for him practically gratis in return for stealing his team from a supportive Cleveland constituency and relocating here.

Not long after Jack Kent Cooke’s body cooled, the Redskins stadium — then named in honor of the owner and builder — became Fed Ex. Now for a paltry $20 million bid, for 10 years University of Maryland basketball players will bounce the sphere at Comcast Center. Will Byrd Stadium follow Cole into history as we’re being blitzed by word commercials courtesy of the greed of both buyer and seller?

The solution is for the media to ignore the commercial aspects of a name. Never mention it and get some of that ad money for ourselves, while sparing us hearing such blather as PSI Net Stadium. Then maybe some day we’ll hear John Unitas Stadium. Or maybe someday Oriole Stadium and Camden Yards will become Preparation H Stadium.

Names, names, names. How would you like to live in Dismal Hollow, Va., a little community I skirted in the Shenandoah Mountains the other day? Or have an address on Hog Neck Road, which is in North County not far from Tick Neck Road, part of which has been changed to Edward Raynor Boulevard?

But what’s in a name?

However, I’d have drawn the line if New Bay Times had become “Site 104 Gazette.” But I guess the name for that proposed Bay dumping grounds for spoils dredged from entrances to Baltimore Harbor is reserved for its champion. It will appropriately be named Glendening Gunk Grounds.

Enough said …

Copyright 2000
New Bay Times Weekly