The Times of Wayne County apparently has quite a reputation among its audience in upstate New York. “We print all arrests in the county and all mug shots and have for last 28 years,” says Ron Holdraker, the newspaper’s editor-publisher-owner. “Everybody knows that Times of Wayne County.” Certainly that description applies to one Joseph Talbot, a 43-year-old who was arrested by New York State Police on Dec. 29 for allegedly driving while intoxicated. In a press release, the State Police note a complaint that Talbot had drawn attention for “following a vehicle and [being] all over the road and for failing to keep right and moving from lane unsafely.”
This particular arrest, however, didn’t proceed too smoothly. According to Holdraker, Talbot professed that he didn’t want his mug shot in that “rag of a newspaper.” The police press release puts matters more professionally: “Talbot refused to provide a breath sample and further refused to be finger printed and photographed because he did not wish to appear in the local paper.” For that conduct, he caught a second-degree charge for “obstructing governmental administration.”
Eventually Talbot acceded to processing requirements.
Then he proceeded to obstruct newspaper administration, which is by no means a criminal offense. As the Times of Wayne County was distributing its weekly edition on Saturday, Holdraker started receiving calls from newsstands that a man — Talbot, according to Holdraker — was buying up all the copies of the paper. “We got in the car and restocked newsstands as far as we could,” says Holdraker, noting that he prints only 350 extra copies per week.
Some helpful numbers: Talbot’s extra-newspaper purchases, according to Holdraker, were limited to the village of Newark. There, he gobbled up about 900 to 1,000 copies at $1.25 a pop from at least eight places. Surely the outlays suppressed the news to some degree. However: The Times of Wayne County has a circulation of just north of 12,000, a number that consists of newsstand sales and subscription via mail (about 5,000, says Holdraker). So the buy-up plan addressed barely one-twelfth of the newspaper’s print distribution.
And, this being about 20 years after the rise of newspaper websites, there was another means of circulation as well. The Times of Wayne County, says Holdraker, puts its top news stories on its site without restriction. As to whether this particular story qualified for this status, Holdraker says, “It wasn’t gonna be, but obviously he pushed it.”
Jill Humphries was working at Joey’s Northside Grocery in Newark on Saturday. “The gentleman came in and he picked up all of the Times papers that we have,” recalls Humphries. The fellow grabbed all the paper on the rack in front of the store and asked: ‘Is this all you have?’ and I said, ‘No, we have more.’ Then he asked, ‘Well, when you run out, do they come and bring more or once you’re out your’e out?’ ” Upon learning that the paper doesn’t normally get another shipment, the man asked for the whole shebang — all the ones in the rack plus 100 waiting in the wings. “He said, ‘Okay, I’ll take them.’ ”
As this transaction was going down, another customer in the store sensed that there was a run on the copies of the Times of Wayne County. “She said, ‘Save me one,’ and he didn’t.”
Asked whether she was sure the man was Talbot, Humphries replied, “Absolutely, yes. … I knew he was in that paper because I had looked through it and saw his picture in it.”