Friday, November 21, 2008
tell the people what's going on
Absent is the slogan I associate with the News, which Dad quoted endlessly: "If you read the News, you know."
William Giles served as the paper's editor from 1977 to 1983. Apparently he earned the nickname "Armpits" due to a hands-behind-his-head portrait than ran with his columns. During his tenure, the News was locked in a circulation battle with its rival, the Free Press. The two papers entered into a joint operating agreement in 1989, with the Freep emerging as the higher-circulation paper.
As a kid, I preferred the Free Press, probably due to a more attractive package. I was drawn to newspapers early, due to the high volume that flowed through our home. How many, you ask? Here's a snapshot of what the family newspaper consumption looked like while I was in high school (early 90s)
Detroit Free Press
Globe and Mail
New York Times (Sunday)
These were peppered over the years with papers picked up on vacation (usually the Toledo Blade with its "Peach" section and Toronto Sun) and a brief spell of curiousity with the National Post (Dad geared down to weekends-only quickly, then dropped it entirely).
Dad went through each paper twice: when he received it and when he clipped out articles for his students to use for research. He laid an old, ink-stained tablecloth on the kitchen table, flipped on the radio (either CBC Stereo for music/arts or WJR for sports), laid out a pen and scissors and began clipping away. Besides the research material, he preserved recipes for Mom, oddball items for me and a two-year supply of Canadian-money-at-par coupons for Armando's Mexican restaurant. I sat at the table and bugged him if I had nothing better to do, often reading aloud one of my Sports Hall of Shame or bad movie books.
Once a box or two of clippings amassed, he organized them by general topic on the basement floor, took them to school and placed them in their ultimate resting place. By the time I reached high school, declining enrolment led the administration to turn over a former business classroom as his sorting room. This came in handy as a hiding spot whenever Amy and I skipped assemblies and motivational speakers we had no desire to see. By the time Dad passed away, the collection filled the sorting room, the back cupboards of two other classrooms and several filing cabinets. Almost up to the end he clipped away, admitting at times it may have been a tad obsessive, though hundreds of students would disagree. It would have been nice to preserve the collection, but space, developments in digital preservation and I suspect copyright issues would have torpedoed any attempts to find a new home. There are times when I'm writing historical pieces that I wish I had a box of his clippings handy to save time hitting dead ends in digital archives.
I started reading newspapers while I was still in single digits. The entertainment section and comics were my launch pad (I liked the movie ads and Starweek). Soon I moved into the sports section, probably during the Tigers' 1984 pennant race. The rest of the paper grabbed my attention around the start of high school - I flipped through the morning dailies in Dad's classroom before heading off to home room.
I rarely pick up either of the Detroit dailies on visits home due to their reduced content. Trying to puff up a weekend edition with four-page sections does not make a satisfying read.
Source: Monthly Detroit, August 1978 - JB