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Frank Gannett Memorial

This is located tucked into the western ridge of Mt. Hope Cemetery in the fair city of Rochester, NY. It is the grave of Frank E. Gannett, the founder of the Gannett media corporation, which now owns many papers nationwide, the most notable of which is the USA Today, a few local television stations, and some minor digital domains, the most prominent being CareerBuilder.com. ‘Round these parts the dude is most famous for creating the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper.

Babs Biesecker in her article, Remembering World War II: The Rhetoric and Politics of National Commemoration at the Turn of the 21 st Century, posits that the site and nature of memorials have a heavy hand in determining a cultural collective memory concerning a person or event. The Gannett Memorial is not very well known or prominent within the cemetery, but certainly impressive to anyone who stumbles upon it.

In an age where print is slowly shrinking in favor of digital news sources, the anachronistic paperboy on this grave marker may one day be strange as seeing a cobbler. Or a milkman, or other antiquated professions. It’s how Gannett made his fortune, though, and it influenced the lives of thousands of people. Can this memorial let people know that? This suggests we value the achievements of Gannett – but will it hold up to continue to explicate those values? Or will it seep into obscurity as the generations of the future forget what the feel of paper in their hands is like? It lacks anything but the dog chasing the paper boy – ignoring what Gannett Does today and where it will go tomorrow. It’s like those things should be added, but this ought to be puzzling to those casual park goers in the far future. Still, this grave memorializes an entire way of life and thinking in addition to the life of one man – and that should be a strong indication of what many generations valued before we have up on print.

Bryan

Comments

Larissa
Reply

I like the incorporation of the paper boy and the dog in this memorial. Is there a plaque explaining any information about Gannett? I certainly think more Rochesterians would be interested in this memorial if more information was given. Or was it indented to have less information? It appropriate for people to pull out their smart phones and google names to find out who they are visiting??

Erin
Reply

I really like your discussion of the paperboy on the plaque. When we went over this memorial in class, I didn’t think about the perception of the paperboy on the seemingly undying memorial. I would like to think that in the future, while this will look antiquated, people who appreciate the history of America and freedom of the press will appreciate this memorial. Very interesting point of view!

Kristi
Reply

I think it interesting that this memorial is for Gannett, a person well known for the newspaper industry. But it could almost end up being a memorial for the newspaper industry itself. I think you are kind of saying that, but I wanted to say it (again) because if found it striking. Interesting illustration!

Bryan
Reply

@Bolalek – there isn’t a plaque or anything. We should really start slapping QR codes on everything, I think.

@Erin – Yeah, I breezed over this in class, but especially in the context of a cemetery that has survived for the past two hundred years, it is interesting to imagine very long term – that is, what people in 2200 or 2300 will think of what we left behind. But that’s just my background as a History undergrad…

@Kirk – way to say something better than what I wanted to say! Thanks!

Keith
Reply

It certainly commemorates one of the great local entrepreneurs. Perhaps you are right, that seeing the neighborhood paper person may become as obsolete as the milk man. I for one hope not, as a former paper deliverer. What an influence this man’s vision made locally for so very long and still running strong.

Liz
Reply

I’ve stumbled across this memorial on my treks through Mt. Hope Cemetery. Had I now grown up in Rochester and seen the Gannett building downtown, I never would have made the connection that the owner of so much news media would make his home and run a print-based business in a place like Rochester.

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