Why I’m Still (Proof)Reading the Riverfront Times

click to enlarge Evie Hemphill has been proofreading the Riverfront Times' print edition for five years. - COURTESY EVIE HEMPHILL
Evie Hemphill has been proofreading the Riverfront Times' print edition for five years.

I like feeling useful and, in these covidtimes, am frequently feeling quite the opposite. I’m no real help to loved ones and acquaintances as they lose livelihoods and run into major delays or even dead ends when it comes to accessing financial relief. And I certainly don’t have the skills to be of any sort of use on the medical side of this crisis.

Something I can do, though, is spot dangling modifiers, problematic apostrophes and abominably treated hyphens — and do my best to make sure such horrors never see the printed page. Unless those precious printed pages go away entirely, that is. And in the case of the weekly Riverfront Times that I’ve so enjoyed proofreading on Sunday mornings in recent years, that almost happened last month.

The four-decade-old paper still may not be long for this world, despite the best efforts of a now mostly volunteer crew that has, incredibly, stepped up in recent weeks to continue churning it out, with or without pay. Inspired by RFT’s intrepid staffers, I’ve tried to keep contributing in my own small way by helping their hard work shine just a little brighter.

I hope fellow St. Louisans keep reading too, and, if they’re able, become members of the newly formed Riverfront Times Press Club to help this wonderfully feisty alt-weekly press onward for many years to come.

But I remain fearful for RFT’s future, and that of so many of the people and things I’ve grown to love dearly about St. Louis. When this pandemic eventually subsides, what will be left? Will only big chains and corporations and those with power and wealth survive?

Will there still be independent bookstores and theaters and shops run by people who clearly are not in it for the money? Will our cherished gardens and museums remain free to all? Will I be able to hop back on my beloved #10 MetroBus en route to the job I find so meaningful at St. Louis Public Radio, or will transit become even more underfunded than it already is?

I don’t have the answers, and sometimes asking these questions just leaves me feeling even more useless. Everything good in the world seemed fragile enough even before COVID-19, and now we’re really on the brink. But as we look toward where we go from here, I’m convinced that the solutions will mostly come from the ground up. And I hope we can all find ways here and there to be part of those solutions.

There are already some bright spots, some evidence that we’ll find our way together. I’m in awe of what I see happening within the local restaurant industry, from the Best of Baileys’ effort to Pride St. Louis’ carry-out dinner benefiting those in need. In my own circle, I’ve been impressed with how St. Louis BWorks’ tiny crew is brainstorming and finding new ways to reach kids in our region.

Meanwhile, RFT was recently able to hire back one of its laid-off journalists thanks to community-driven support. And local musicians like John Henry, as just one example, are becoming even more creative as they find new ways to connect with audiences while also raising funds for deeply good causes.

Let’s keep the ideas coming, no matter how small or useless we all are bound to feel at times.

Editor's note: Evie has been proofreading the print edition of the Riverfront Times since, we think, about 2015. Any mistakes on the website are the fault of Editor in Chief Doyle Murphy. Honestly, the few that slip into the print edition from time to time are almost certainly Doyle's fault, too — probably because he missed deadline. Evie can only do so much. — Doyle Murphy
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