"Tributes" is a category of classified ads I think the Portal Paper needs. I'd like to encourage people to consider placing one...especially the local non-Internet readers, most of whom are retired, who don't have anything to sell but would like to make a supportive statement.
The free weekly papers in big cities have "Personal" ads, often linked to live chat sites. Matchmaking and "online dating" seem to dominate these sites, and they attract vicious, violent people. That, I don't want to get involved with. People seem to show nicer sides of their personalities when they talk about things that aren't so "personal."
However, one good thing I've seen people do with "Personal" ads is use them to express good will toward others--friends or strangers, living or dead. The only obvious "purpose" of these ads is to brighten someone's day. Often they're anonymous. Sometimes the person being thanked or commended is also anonymous. This type of ad can be as obvious as "Happy Mothers' Day, Mom, from your loving children" or as cryptic as the famous poet's book dedication, "To Tracy, with Tracy knows what, and Tracy knows why."
In cities with large Catholic populations, "Personal" ads often celebrate favorite saints. Belief in St. Jude as the patron of Lost Causes is especially strong. Some community papers have had to impose limits of one ad thanking St. Jude "for prayers answered" per week.
Non-Catholics often support their favorite papers with celebrations of favorite artists and entertainers. Overall, no distinction between living and dead celebrities is obvious. An ad might urge people to watch a new show on a certain night, or it might rally the fans who keep old movies and recordings on the air.
Truly nice ads in this category also thank individuals for things they've done, or congratulate them on the events in their lives. I've heard of people who wanted to get more "nice" vibrations into the air posting ads like, "Thank you, Mom/Dad, for being the greatest, from your loving son." Who knows how many parents all over the city wanted to thank their loving sons for one ad.
I read this kind of "Tributes" as completely different from the matchmaker-type "Personal" ads, so I'd like to offer the category under the heading of "Tributes." The purpose is just to express appreciation, to scatter peace and good will and general warmheartedness.
"Tributes" can also have a corrective function. I've said it before, elsewhere, and I'll say it again: kings can be wrong, editors can be wrong, and an editor whose screen name is "King" can certainly be wrong...at least once a week. In order to avoid sounding like a gushy fan-girl, or a desperate bookseller trying too hard to claim that everything on my shelf is The Great American Novel (especially that Italian dictionary), I usually ask myself "what's not to love" about everything I review. It's a learned habit that some readers, and undoubtedly some writers, find less than endearing. If you're that kind of reader, a "Tribute" ad is an ideal way to say things like, "I love my Manx cat (or Araucana chicken or Lhasa Apso dog), a wonderful pet," or "I have all the 'Green Gables' books and I like Gilbert Blythe."
Too many people avoid reading newspapers because most of what's considered "news" is not warm'n'fuzzy. Although I think people need to practice detachment and outgrow the "need" for warm fuzzies, I also think the best newspapers are the ones that leave room for warm'n'fuzzy personal messages. So please, local readers, keep the Portal Paper stocked with "Tributes."