So let it be written…
Some stories just won’t go away.
And some things never change.
The other day I was checking out this thing called the WayBack Machine.
It’s a non-profit internet archive out of the United States, with a staff of 150, that has recently drawn press for its intention to make a copy of the internet in Canada. But more so, for the concern its operators have expressed over U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s reputed contempt for the open Internet.
This virtual library has for the past 20 years been backing up the internet by taking snap shots of web pages and it claims to process 300 million of them each week. Its mission: “To give everyone free and universal access to all knowledge, forever.”
Anyway, I browsed the site and found some random Now newspaper pages dating from — you guessed it — way back. It’s a spotty archive. But despite its decidedly random selections, it certainly confirms the proposition that some stories will indeed not go away, or change.
Consider, if you will, this Sept. 20, 2001 headline: “Pit bulls maul senior.”
I have written about so many of these attacks over the years. It’s a standard headline really, with the last word customarily a fill-in-the-blank, be it senior, child, teen, man, woman, etc.
Then there’s the inevitable follow-up story about failing bylaws, such as the one captured by the WayBack Machine under the Sept. 15, 2004 headline “Pit bull ban may not have teeth to stop bites.”
Here’s another story that won’t go away: “Christmas Bureau Crunch,” with the subhead “Needy families in the community will be having a blue Christmas unless donations of cash and toys flood into the Surrey Christmas Bureau.”
That headline ran on Nov. 27, 2002. Also before that, and since then. Not necessarily verbatim, but you get the drift.
Same goes for “Surrey’s shelter shortfall” (Jan. 21, 2004). People out in the cold, struggling to survive, and not enough room at the inn. Expect this headline, or facsimile thereof, each winter.
Another set of archetypal headlines you might well see any time of the year, any given year, is “No single solution to homeless problem” (Oct. 20, 2003), and “High demand for affordable housing” (May 12, 2004) and “No easy remedy for high cost of housing” (June 14, 2004).
And, we always seem to begin the New Year with a terrible, horrible account of human suffering involving uninsured tenants being burned out of their homes, or the more common “first homicide of the year” story.
Here’s a Surrey Now headline from Jan. 16, 2006: “Pair of murders make for deadly start to year,” courtesy of the WayBack Machine.
That particular one, admittedly, was a bit of a late-starter. The year’s first homicide typically happens in the first week of January, sometimes on New Years Day.
Of course, there are the headlines heralding the latest let-downs from politicians at any given level, be it civic, regional, provincial or federal.
I could fill this entire column space with bygone headlines like this one: “Minister won’t commit,” dated April 12, 2004.
Oftentimes, these stories are accompanied by sidebars under headlines like “Budget gives more to the rich than the poor” (May 6, 2006).
Expect many, many, many more of these types of headlines in the weeks and years to come. Well, as long as there are politicians, anyway.
Wouldn’t it be swell, people, if in 2017 there were no more ‘dreadlines’ above the bylines? Not forced, of course, but a real reflection of the way things are playing out, out there.
No more vicious dog attacks, empty shelves, or people being left out in the cold.
No more social and economic distress, or cynical politics.
No more killings.
How’s about it, Surrey?
So let it be done.
Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org