Monday, June 2, 2014

News and Paper



When I first snagged a job at a major newspaper, I didn't exactly cover a war, a riot, or even describe the deliciousness of an apple tart from the Santa Monica Farmers' Market. No, not exactly. Not remotely.

I worked on the fourth floor, and the newsroom was just an elevator ride away. Two degrees of separation, and a world apart.

Still, my job was all about words. I paged delivery agents when Mr. Green's paper got wet or Mrs. Smith's went missing.

This could have proved disheartening had I wanted to be a journalist. But I didn't want to be a journalist. While I'd written for trade and airline magazines, it was never my intention to get emotionally entangled or intimate with facts and truth. Sure, we could spend some nice times together, but we'd prove a difficult match for anything resembling a long-term commitment.

(That's why editors are so great, by the way. My editors have always double-checked my work. Which means I don't stand by my words, I can stand behind the ones who stand by my words. Every editor I've ever had has, when necessary, gone to the mat for me. Courage I've applauded vigorously from the wings.)

But where was I? Oh yeah, this job. Great fun, actually. When not at the pub, me and a bunch of other lit and lib art majors spent most of our time impressing each other with our delivery instructions, sending out pages like:

Throw up on porch;
Wrap it in plastic before you stick it in the box;
and,
Subscriber on vacation so put it in the rear until further notice..

Fortunately, most of the delivery agents had been around since dirt and could translate smart-ass into English and Spanish.

It took awhile to get out the journalism basement, figure out the combination and whatnot. But I did. Or didn't, now that I think about it. Others took up some heavy lifting on my behalf.

I'll miss the paper part of news when it goes away; my guess is that'll happen sooner than we think, newspaper home delivery is practically out the door as we speak. Then lots of up-and-coming lib arts majors will have to find another temporary job that offers equal opportunity entertainment.

If you thought I couldn't take a photo this good, you'd be right. This is courtesy of one of my favorite photographers, Kenny Mac at Greenwich Village Daily Photos. Thanks for the borrow.

29 comments:

  1. I grew up in a family that got a paper delivered late afternoon, The Evening Star [competition to The Washington Post]. I remember that so much more clearly than TV news. For years after we moved to Maine my mother would bring us a copy of The Washington Post, then the only paper in the nation's capital, when she came to visit because we were hungry for a real newspaper. We used to periodically get one of the local papers here but there is no comparison to a big city newspaper, where there is investigative reporting and first-hand news.

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  2. And now the Washington Post is owned by Amazon. Oh, the irony.

    Very nice photo, Kenny Mac. And Karin, it's a good thing you don't restrict yourself to facts. I like when you write what you write, when you want to write it.

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  3. top story.....delightfully illustrated!!

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  4. I am cringing when the L.A. Times is out of print... I've had it all of my life... Will miss the bending over, running out in the rain to drag it in.. and who says u couldn't of taken that photo??? :-)

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  5. It is a tradition, isn't it? But a really expensive one from the company's perspective, when readership is down, advertising dollars are hard to come by, and the internet is so cheap.

    It's really going to mess with my Sunday mornings, though.

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  6. Nothing will replace reading a newspaper on Sunday morning with a cup of coffee. The smell of the newsprint, the dirty fingers, the feel of the paper. I recently noticed something about reading a newspaper. You are offered information that you didn't choose to read......a lot more than subjects that are "trending" that minute. Articles that someone else found interesting enough to write about. I rue the day that disappears.

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  7. I can't imagine sitting down in the morning with a tablet instead of a real newspaper. I will surely read less and be less well informed, not to mention grumpy. Oh, and by the way, I did give your delivery instructions a very careful reading. Takes a certain kind of mind.

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  8. Can I hate what you're saying but love how you say it?

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  9. I'm teaching some journalism students this quarter, and they seem to be optimistic about the job market but also think that print versions are going away soon. Sigh. I always thought I'd have "made it" when I could afford to have the NYT delivered every day just so I could do the crossword (hate doing them online . . . )

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  10. Thanks Karin. You're right, about to go the way of the shoe form.

    I think my photo looks better here than at my joint. Hmmm. !

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  11. I have thrown up on the porch in your honor.

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  12. I enjoy so much when you write about journalism, Karin.

    I agree with Leslie, nothing will replace reading a real newspaper. I road about 14 mile on Sunday to get my newspaper on the village near my house. Even if I could reading it online...

    Great photo! I am a fan of Ken Mac!

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  13. Sharon, yes, huge difference. Though now that there's so much consolidation, you can't get a different perspective from all the major papers. Big loss.

    Doris -- A mind like yours and Patrizzi's, me thinks.

    Travis, yes, you can.

    Bec, at least they know what's waiting for them. And of course the advantage is that we can read the London Times, Guardian, NYT, and so forth every morning. But as Leslie said, we have lost some of the serendipity of landing on a good story we weren't looking for.

    Sonia, you go that extra mile, like the journalist you are. And Petrea and YAH -- I never miss a KM post. And he has captured many many sights that are or soon will be lost and gone forever.

    Kalei, hah! I sez.

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  14. Paul Coates, Jim Murray, Frank Finch, Zan Thompson, Robert Elegant, Jack Smith, Martin Bernheimer, Cecil Smith, Robert Hilburn -- these Times writers and more linger in the memory. A welcome sight each morning, the L.A. Times on the driveway.

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  15. . . . not to forget jazz critic Leonard Feather.

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  16. Great story!
    Delivery Agent? Man, did I ever get shortchanged. They always referred to me as a paperboy! Long Beach Press-Telegram in the A.M. That is as close as I ever got to the newsroom.

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  17. Oh yes, Leonard Feather. And all the great foreign correspondents -- John Thor Dahlberg, Carol Williams, Rone Tempest (great name). One of my current favorites is David Ulin - books.

    On a bike, Pat? The Sunday ppr weighed like 50 pounds, so bikes weren't an option.

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  18. In fact, this may be an urban legend, but when the Sunday ppr was still massive, it was said it once landed on some subscriber's beagle and squished him.

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  19. I love your stories. And, your writing. I'll bet the oldtimers enjoyed the play on words and got a chuckle out of you and your lot.

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  20. We still get our paper delivered. I like the paper. I like how you can browse without committing. Once you click a link you are committed.

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  21. Throw up on Beagle?

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  22. Dare I admit that I'm not much for reading the newspaper? TheChief however, is a lifetime devotee...I have noticed that the LA Times is about 4 inches narrower than it used to be...and quite a bit thinner. Occasionally I browse through it...but not on a regular basis. Mammoth actually does not have delivery. TheChief has to go to town and pick up a paper every Saturday and Sunday...then spends the morning on the deck, reading and smoking a cigar...rain, snow, or shine!!!

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  23. Carolynn, they were the salt of the earth -- wasn't anything they hadn't seen before.

    Kathy, that's a great image.

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  24. I get our local rag delivered, along with the Wall Street Journal. Doesn't anyone else get a headache from too much reading on a computer? And aren't tablets too small to give you the array of stories from which to choose? Sweet Jesus on a whole wheat cracker, I sound like an old fart. But I do love me a good paper, and losing it will ruin my Sundays. I'll have to find another excuse for doing nothing for the first 3 or 4 hours of the day.

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  25. To Marjie: Amen!

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  26. I'm not sure why, but I'm a little surprised that you found your editors so supportive. (I looked for sarcasm in your words, didn't find it). I wonder if some examples of editors being supportive would make an interesting post, for you as well as us.

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  27. As a rule, my writing doesn't come back heavily edited unless the magazine or whatever hired me without much familiarity with my work or style. Mostly, editors will call me on conclusions, etc., that aren't well supported by whatever it is I'm citing. Then I either have to find better references or take it out.

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  28. Hi Karin! How are you? I dug through my old blog because I missed reading your writing! Hope you have a great weekend! x

    PS: Japan is still big on newspapers. We even have a trash bin just for newspapers at work. We're very old school ;)

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