Newspapers

I love them. Always have. Always will. I get it that it’s a generational thing and once again I fall in the Dinosaur category but so be it.

New York City in the early 1960’s was blessed with lots of newspapers, both morning and evening editions. In our family each of us had our favorite: Mom was a New York Daily News fan; Dad was a World Journal American kind of guy and Don liked them all if they had a Sports section.

The World Journal American, an amalgamation of three different papers was a broadsheet, like the New York Times today. But back then broadsheet really meant broad, as in big. That old image of someone sleeping in the park with the newspaper as a blanket was no exaggeration then. That Journal American could cover most any adult from head to foot. But that was before papers started losing readership, and budget cuts took place. And along with those cuts that decimated individual news rooms, there was the subtle, never reported, cutting of the actual size of the print sheet. Try comparing a page from the New York Times today to one from the Journal American of the 1960s and you will see what I mean. At best you could cover a small child sleeping on that park bench with today’s paper; an adult- no way.

At the time, they were the most trusted of news sources, besides of course Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley on the nightly news.

So put this next memory under the “Fondest Memories” tab. In the evenings after dinner I would sit on my Dad’s lap on the couch, as he read the latest edition he had brought home with him after work. The paper was spread wide in front of both of us. He would diligently read the news of the world and I would look at the pictures. Sometimes he would read an article to me – I probably didn’t understand it, but I liked the sound of his voice. It was warm and comforting; a special shared moment. Les and I don’t have children but rest assured if I had, that ritual would have continued whether my kid liked it or not. Some things are just that important.

To this day up in the attic I have boxes and boxes of old newspapers that chronicled some historic event. Yes I know you can access all of it now on the internet, but it just isn’t the same. The events chronicled there are pages of my own life: the parade for astronaut John Glenn (which Mom actually took me too- I almost got trampled to death), the JFK assassination, the death of Elvis, every Presidential election, and in Nixon’s case resignation, and of course every time a New York team had won a championship. All there. And it was important to keep the whole paper, a mini time capsule with advertisements, movie listings, baseball scores, obituaries. Each one is a perfect snapshot of one day in my life; in the life of the city, the country, the world.

Later in life I was lucky enough to work at a local paper and I loved the whole atmosphere; the deadlines, the choices of what stories to lead with, the layout of each page, the sound and smell of the press turning out the next days edition.

Now I am not a total Dinosaur- I check out many news apps every morning along with my Twitter and Facebook feed though I guess I wouldn’t categorize either one as news.

But nothing, nothing on God’s earth is the same as the feel of newsprint,

It is no wonder one of my favorite movies is ‘All The President’s Men’ which of course chronicled the Washington Post’s investigation of the Watergate cover up. Journalism at its best; the power of the free press – without it, we are lost as a society.

One of the most fun characters on a short lived television series was named Carl Kolchak and he was a reporter who investigated some- what would you say – unworldly things and inevitably when his stories were shelved, he would grow frustrated with his editor and scream “ It’s news Vincenzo..it’s news!—we’re a newspaper! – we print the news!!”

I love that line. (I know some of you will get that reference).

That’s what a newspaper is about- reporting the news, nothing more, certainly nothing less, but that is more than enough, and it is a noble thing.

There was a movie in the 70’s called ‘The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight’, a parody of the Gallo mob in New York City, and there was a stereotypical Italian grandmother who, questioning whether her boys had actually completed a mob hit, proclaimed: “If I didn’t read it in the Daily News….it didn’t happen!”.

I get that.

Read on my friends…read on.

-Rob
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