Thursday, April 15, 2010

hello sweetheart, get me rewrite

Two reminders of what we've lost and maybe what we won't miss when it comes to the glory days of the newspaper.

First, from the New York Times, a piece by A. O. Scott on a film fest of 43 great newspaper pictures, starting soon in the Big Apple:

Remember newspapers? Neither do I, to tell you the truth, even though I’ve been working at this one for more than 10 years. But you have to go back a lot further— nearly half a century — to sample the sights, sounds and smells that still evoke the quintessence of print journalism in all its inky, hectic glory.

Or you could go to Film Forum, where a 43-movie monthlong series called The Newspaper Picture opens on Friday with Billy Wilder’s “Ace in the Hole.” The program is a crackerjack history lesson and also, perhaps, a valediction. Not a day goes by that we don’t read something — a tweet, a blog, maybe even a column — proclaiming the death of newspapers, either to mourn or to dance on the grave. And even if those old newsprint creatures survive, say by migrating to the magic land of the iPad, they sure ain’t what they used to be. Where are the crusty editors and fast-talking girl reporters of yesteryear? I’m peeking over the cubicle wall, and all I see are Web producers and videographers.

And then there's this, from The Pitch, categorized as "studies in crap". It's a slightly less elegaic look at newspapers as they were back in the mid-1960s via a thrift store book entitled "Your Career in Journalism" by M. L. Stein. Among the gems culled by blogger Alan Scherstuhl:

  • "The journalist enjoys good standing in his community. He is even likely to be held in awe." (page 47).
  • "The day may not be far off when a city editor will say to a reporter, 'Check your space gear. You're going to the moon.'" (page 86).
  • "If you are a college graduate in journalism, you may land a job before you even leave the campus."
  • "The story that a reporter worried and sweated over will be read by thousands and perhaps millions of people who will be informed, enlightened or amused. ... He has prestige and influence that most persons can never hope to attain."
  • And then there's this:

  • Sometimes, Stein seems admirably forward-thinking. He writes, "The door is no longer closed against you, girls, and you can often compete with men for the same positions at the same salary."

    But then he offers the girls this advice:
    "Let's assume the Indian ambassador to the United States and his wife visit your city. Someone from your paper will interview him on such weighty matters as East-West relations, India's neutrality policy, and so forth. But, as a reporter from the women's section, you will talk to Mrs. Ambassador about the problems and pleasures of being a diplomat's wife, her role in Washington, her views about American women, etc."
    Perhaps he would think more highly of women if the world's most famous girl reporter hadn't failed for decades to crack that Clark-is-Superman case.

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