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Sunday, September 15, 2019

End Of A Commuting Era

As a longtime mass transit commuter, I am very sorry to report that Thursday was the last day for the Washington Post's free paper, Express.

For those who do not live in this area, Express was a paper that was distributed on weekdays at Metro stations and some other locations in the DC area.  It was a mix of news stories reported in Washington Post and entertainment news of different sorts (wacky stories that you might have missed, celebrities, local personalities).  At the Metro stations, you could usually find people handing out the Express papers during the morning rush hour.  We all know that the morning commute to work is not always a lot of fun, but the Express paper was something I could look forward to.

Its demise was very sudden.  I believe employees (both writers and hawkers) were told on Tuesday; I learned from another news source on Wednesday that Thursday would be its last day.  I've read that the hawkers were given no severance (I believe they were contracted through another company).  I'm not sure about the details with the writers, but I've read that they were not under the union agreement that regular Washington Post writers had. I've also read at least a couple of stories about writers who moved to the area recently specifically for that job, who are suddenly scrambling in an expensive area to find something else.  (Not to employers:  If you're wondering whether sudden layoffs are a kind, compassionate way to terminate employees, they're not).

Anyway, I feel very sorry for the people whose jobs ended this way.  And I feel sad that all of us DC-area commuters are missing out on a very nice free paper.  One of my many worries these days is that there are too many competing narratives on major news stories, and that these competing narratives are deepening divisions in our society.  I'm fully aware of the problems of going too far in the other direction, of course (state-run media in totalitarian states, anyone?), but I was always grateful for a source of news that anyone could access, even without a TV, computer, or phone.  We can use all the common ground we can get these days.