Mak­ing head­lines with lessons from the heart

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS -

No one has ever ac­cused me of be­ing ro­man­tic.

My idea of ro­mance is a hot … cup of cof­fee and the morn­ing pa­per.

Call me bor­ing. Ev­ery­one else does. After in­gest­ing an­other day’s worth of news, much of which in­evitably deals with peo­ple in some rather ex­as­per­at­ing cir­cum­stances, just be­fore I slide into my nightly coma sec­onds after my head hits the pil­low, I am al­ways re­minded of one of my fa­vorite say­ings: There is some­thing to be said for a bor­ing life.

Just ask Jeff Be­zos. Who knew there was so much ro­mance and in­trigue in the news­pa­per racket?

In case you missed it, Mr. Be­zos, the CEO of Ama­zon and one of the rich­est men in the world, was in the news last week. Be­zos also hap­pens to own the Wash­ing­ton Post, which gives a whole new mean­ing to mak­ing head­lines.

But Be­zos is not just shap­ing the news; he’s mak­ing it, for rea­sons I’m sure he would just as soon forego. Be­zos wound up be­ing splashed on front pages across the coun­try when it learned he was di­vorc­ing his wife – and that he was hav­ing an af­fair with an­other wo­man. Then things re­ally heated up. On Thurs­day Be­zos posted a blog post in which he al­leged the owner of the Na­tional En­quirer was try­ing to black­mail him by threat­en­ing to print more sala­cious de­tails – and pho­tos – of his af­fair if he did not drop his in­ves­ti­ga­tion into who leaked the texts that sparked the orig­i­nal out­ing of his af­fair.

The head of Amer­i­can Me­dia Inc., which owns the Na­tional En­quirer, hap­pens to be a man named David Pecker. Among the things he was al­legedly threat­en­ing to do was ex­pose some “be­low the belt” self­ies of Mr. Be­zos.

For some­one who has spent a life­time cre­at­ing head­lines meant to stop peo­ple in their tracks, this was a whole new realm. Mind-bog­gling stuff.

Look, I’m no Jeff Be­zos. I’m just a lowly editor. No, we don’t share the same pay grade. But I have to ad­mire his guts and his de­ci­sion to stand by one of the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of jour­nal­ism. In­stead of knuck­ling un­der to the al­leged ex­tor­tion at­tempt, Be­zos went pub­lic and beat Pecker to the punch, in ef­fect de­scrib­ing in de­tail the kind of ma­te­rial the En­quirer was threat­en­ing to ex­pose. Let’s just say they weren’t fam­ily pic­tures.

But I di­gress.

This was sup­posed to be about ro­mance. As I said, I don’t know a lot about it. But I do know a good story. And when Peg DeGrassa told me she was plan­ning to in­ter­view a cou­ple that had been mar­ried for 70 years, I was hooked.

To­day, on the two pages pre­ced­ing this column, it was our plea­sure to pre­view Valen­tine’s Day with a pro­file of the Lib­er­a­tores of Ridley Town­ship. End­less love? Yeah, about seven decades of it.

Me? I come up about three decades and change short of that. My wife and I will hit 37 this sum­mer.

Hav­ing ac­com­plished this feat – which I can as­sure you is al­most com­pletely her do­ing (why she has not kicked me to the curb yet I have no idea), I can of­fer gen­tle­men a sin­gle – but very im­por­tant – piece of ad­vice for Valen­tine’s Day.

Uh, guys, that’s Thurs­day, in case you’ve lost track.

Like most long­time mar­riages, ev­ery year my wife and I tell each other we re­ally don’t want any­thing for Valen­tine’s Day. Guys, if you have never be­lieved one thing this lib­eral, left­lean­ing, Com­mie, pinko, Demo­crat editor has ever writ­ten, be­lieve this:

She’s ly­ing. What­ever you do, do not walk in that door Thurs­day night empty-handed.

There will, how­ever, be one thing miss­ing from the items I will of­fer my “Sweet­heart” this year.

Those would in fact be “Sweet­hearts.” Con­ver­sa­tion Hearts. You know, those sug­ary, heart-shaped con­fec­tions with the pithy say­ings on them like, “Be Mine.”

For as long as I have known her (which is longer than I care to ad­mit), I have held to a Valen­tine’s Day tra­di­tion with my wife. Ev­ery year I get her a card, and taped to that card is al­ways a box of Con­ver­sa­tion Hearts. Well, not this year. Re­lax, my wife and I are still to­gether. No, this is more trou­bling than that.

This Valen­tine’s Day will have to go on without Con­ver­sa­tion Hearts.

It seems Necco Wafers, the com­pany that for years made the Sweet­hearts Con­ver­sa­tion Hearts, was bought by the Span­gler Candy Com­pany. But Span­gler says it does not have enough time to make Con­ver­sa­tion Hearts this year. They as­sure us the Valen­tine’s Day sta­ple will be back on shelves next year. Cold com­fort.

The truth is I buy these things for my­self. I gob­ble them down by the hand­ful. I will miss them ter­ri­bly. My wife? Prob­a­bly not so much.

You might be able to find some Con­ver­sa­tion Hearts out there in some stores or on­line, but the com­pany warns they will not be new prod­uct, and likely stuff left over from last year. Brach’s is try­ing to jump into the void, but their hearts come in a plas­tic bag, not the trade­mark box.

My heart is bro­ken. Lit­er­ally. Well, there’s al­ways jew­elry. Why do I get the feel­ing that Jeff Be­zos does not have this prob­lem?

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at 484-521-3147. E-mail him at [email protected]­co­times.com. Make sure you check out his blog, The Heron’s Nest, ev­ery day at http://del­co­heron­snest.blogspot. com. Fol­low him on Twit­ter, @ phil­heron.

A Valen­tine’s Day without Con­ver­sa­tion Hearts? Say it ain’t so.

Phil Heron Heron’s Nest

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