PiPress’ Bulletin Board secret revealed

Bulletin Board, the long-running column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press was social media before there was even a term like “social media.” It developed a large and loyal following that shared the elements and observations of life in Minnesota.

Like this, for example:

“When we were kids, we had a good way to shoot off caps. We got caps that came in rolls made to fit into cap guns. Cap guns never worked very well and often quit working after getting some rough kid treatment. We’d take a roll length with about 10 caps and carefully roll it up tightly with the caps positioned together. Then we’d clamp them tightly in the jaws of a pair of pliers. With that setup, we’d whack the pliers on the concrete steps. They would go off with a really satisfying bang — much better than those wimpy little pops you’d get if your cap gun was still working.”

But Bulletin Board kept a secret; nobody knew who was behind it. Until Saturday.

“I am the one who’s been talking with you here, in the guise of ‘Bulletin Board,’ for more than a quarter of a century,” Dan Kelly revealed.

And then he revealed something else. He’s the latest victim of the corporate arsonists at the paper.

I have accepted a buyout offer from the Pioneer Press. Today’s Bulletin Board will be the last everyday installment. Henceforth, Bulletin Board will appear in the newspaper most Sundays. That, at any rate, is the plan.

I hope you will consider that the bad news. Here’s the good news:

Bulletin Board will continue, as always, daily (possibly more often; occasionally less often), online only, at a new website that I will operate as a project independent of the newspaper.

It will be, yes, different. I, too, will miss the newsprint in my hands. But the new Bulletin Board has the potential to be, in several ways, a better different. I’ll be able to use more items (unlimited space!); all of the full-color pictures will appear in full color — and I can use more than one per day; and there will be no Earthly reason it must remain exclusively Minnesota- and Wisconsin-focused. I’m looking forward to it.

I was ready to leave my other duties here, and especially the commuting — but I couldn’t let the Bulletin Board conversation die out; it means too much to me — and, I hope, to you.

This is the new site: BBonward.com. Please visit it. Bookmark it. Subscribe to it, to be notified when a new Bulletin Board has been posted. Contribute to it. Enjoy it.

And please tell your friends and family about it, wherever they live, if you think they would value being part of the discussion. If you are on Facebook and Twitter and those other social-media “platforms” of which I am only vaguely aware, please do broadcast the news.

Bulletin Board was Kelly’s idea, and he says he leaves with no hard feelings, which — to be honest with you — is more than a lot of us can say as we watch communities let their local newspapers die.

Please don’t ever give up on this paper. I won’t. All great cities need the best newspapers — plural — that they can support. And Bulletin Board’s departure from these pages, as a daily affair, changes nothing about that. My colleagues work very hard on your behalf, so that you might know what you need to know about life around here.

No matter how brutal the economics of newspapers have become, newspapers still matter. Readers depend on them; the other news media feed off them. (OK, OK, it does go the other way sometimes, too.)

I have always rooted for the underdog (except on those rare occasions when the local teams have been favored). I will continue to do so. Press ahead, colleagues! Make yourselves matter in any way you can.

Kelly is going to try to keep Bulletin Board running on his own at BBOnward.com.

(h/t: Mary Divine)