Wednesday, July 25, 2018

1974 Daily News to Self: Drop Dead!

1974 Daily News to Self: Drop Dead!

Let’s start with a joke that has some relevance and some truth but is rated R: “At birth men emerge from the womb and then spend the rest of their lives trying to get back in.”

Well, that’s what happened to New York’s bare-knuckles but legitimate tabloid, the Daily News.  It was started by the owners of the Chicago Tribune in 1919 and passed around like a note in Miss Grundy’s classroom until finally bought by the Tribune Company which now goes by the imbecile name “Tronc” which stands for Tribune Online Content.”

  • The people at Tronc, attempting to deceive you into believing they have IQs above room temperature are turning it back to “Tribune.”  But as if to revert to room temperature, Tribune has announced that the Daily News Newsroom would go on a starvation diet and lose 50% of its fat.  Fat.  You know. Like reporters and editors and columnists and whatever they call copy boys these days.

Fifty percent of an already pre- shrunk newsroom.

Another joke:  want to lose ten pounds of ugly fat? Cut off your head.  And so went the main editor and the managing editor.

The Daily News started and remains the working man or woman’s newspaper.  To prove it, I will here reproduce in its entirety its original stylebook from 1919:

Tell it to Sweeney.  

That’s it. Four words that no one in New York during the huge influx of Irish laborers and families with minimal to zero education would misunderstand.  That’s what guided the paper all these years.

When the dust settles there will be about 50 people doing the news.  Fifty. For a circulation area of 18 counties and a population of 22 million people.

Today’s “Sweeney” might be named Jose or Ling Bao or Vadim or Ravi.  But the name makes little difference.

Newspapers are pushing up daisies the world over. Printing is slower than the internet.  It’s more expensive to produce than a website. Advertising is down following a downturn in circulation following a downturn in content following a downturn in circulation following a downturn in advertising.  At least everything’s going in the same direction.

So what are they, newspapers?  

A nostalgia trip? A way to wrap fish?  (Who really uses newsprint to wrap fish, anyway?)

Actually, newspapers and magazines are the vehicles for in depth reporting.  And that’s where radio and television get a lot of its news, which means that’s the way you get a lot of your news.  So when they’re all dead and buried, your internet, TV and radio news -- such as there is left of it -- will also become the electric equivalent of killed weeds.

The Daily News hasn’t announced its own death. Yet.  Probably because there isn’t room for that kind of thing in the paper anymore.  And in fact it hasn’t happened. Yet.  But if Tronc continues in its present direction, it will. And you can hear all about it on Lester Holt’s last show.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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