No Pity For Dying Newspapers


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

January 9, 1964, Vol. IX, No. 12

Hopeless Newsmen

Dear Sir:

Mr. Paneth’s poking about in the ashes of the dead Mirror (January 2) reminds me of what the late A.J. Liebling wrote: “The end-of-a-newspaper story has become one of the commonplaces of our time, and schools of journalism are probably giving courses in how to write one: the gloom-fraught city room,  the typewriters hopelessly tapping out stories for the last edition, the members of the staff cleaning out their desks and wondering where the hell they are going to go.”

The average $93-a-week newsman is refined within an industrial-academic (J-school)-fraternal (Sigma Delta Chi) complex that imparts a strange loyalty. So we have the self-awe generated by sending out for sandwiches, chasing girls in Yorkville, and “helplessly witnessing the progressive emasculation of the paper.”

Unionized newsmen have struck for pay and comfort, but never as a group against the management of news by editors and publishers. I remember seeing the assistant city editor of an eminent metropolitan daily throw away an announcement of a public speech to be given by a pacifist who is also an anarchist and the landlord of a refuge for the down-and-out, among several generally unpopular pursuits. “We don’t need this Commie stuff,” the editor said, and no one around him questioned the proprietor’s judgment.

Just how helpless and hopeless are newsmen? Ah, the wonder of a dead newspaper! — Cleve Canham, Rock Island, Illinois

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]