written by Norm:
In the Newspaper Business
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail Norm at
When I was a young boy, I did what most young boys with a bicycle did. I
got a paper route. I lived in an upper middle class neighborhood
North Hollywood, California. Two doors down lived Bing Crosbyís in-laws
and Bingís twin boys would often visit. In the next block
the man who
owned the Kerr Glass Jar Company. But I digress.
Living on a 25-cent weekly allowance was pretty hard what with all the
Comics and Tootsie Rolls to buy. Girls didnít come into my life
until later so I didnít have too many expenses. I think the paper
paid me about three dollars a month plus tips. Funny how people were
always not at home on collection day.
My father worked
at NBC so we were one of the first homes in the
neighborhood to get a TV. It was small, with a seven-inch screen and
only black and
white, of course. Well, the TV came in very handy because
I would invite the boys over to watch the after-school shows if they
help me fold newspapers. We had a big box of rubber bands and
folded and banded the papers in no time. My mother would bring in
and milk while we folded and watched Hopalong Cassidy or The
Lone Ranger or some other thrilling program.
The paper was the Valley
Times. I read it because it published the Cub
Scout news and the baseball results. This was long before major league
to Los Angeles. I followed the Hollywood Stars and Los
Angeles Angles. Once in a while my dad would take me to the Gilmore
to see the Stars. My favorite player was Al Lupian. He played
first base and left field. But I digress again.
The Valley Times had
a special Thursday shopper edition, which was all
ads. It had to be delivered to every home on my route. Once in a while
didnít sell enough ads, the paper was only a few pages thick.
It was very hard to throw on the porches. My solution was to fold
papers together to give it enough heft to throw.
This was great until someone complained that they got three papers and
one. The district manager for paper distribution came to
our house and told my mother if I didnít throw only one paper at a time
would fire me. I was mortified. To get fired from my first job would
be embarrassing to me, my family, to my school and probably to
and to the Cub Scouts. So sometimes I had to get off my bike and walk
up to every house and put the free paper on the porch.
It was a lot of
work. When it rained, as it seldom did in Southern California, I had to
wrap each paper in a plastic sheet and tuck
in the ends. They didnít
have bags in those olden times. But that wasnít too bad because if it
rained hard I had rainy day session
at school and came home early. They
could let us out early because we didnít have a playground session. No
Red Rover or dodge ball.
uncle worked as a pressman at a plant that printed the papers. He
would come to our house and I noticed that he always had black ink
his fingernails. He told me he wore a paper hat that he made out of
newspaper and he would lift the heavy curved plates onto
the presses and
then clean them later. He never did give me a paper hat. I would have
worn it when I peddled my bike on the route.
The reason Iím telling you about the paper is that I am distressed
that so many of the current great newspapers are going out of
or are on the brink of bankruptcy. The Rocky Mountain News and the
Philadelphia Inquirer and maybe the San Francisco Chronicle
are all gone
or about to be. Even my local daily, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, has
cut back coverage and pages. The Monday edition
is so small no one
could throw it on a porch, which isnít an issue because whoever delivers
my paper can hardly get it across the
sidewalk and if the paper is wet
or doesnít get to us they do not re-deliver. They give you a day credit
but you have to drive to
the drugstore to get todayís paper.
The daily paper to most people over 18 is how we get our local news,
including the Cub Scout
events. We can keep track of who in our
community gets promoted or dies or gets married or even gets robbed. We
have a good sports
section, which on most days is larger than the
business section although I donít get much on the LA Dodgers or my alma
I pay 50 cents an issue, which is a pretty good bargain but
apparently not enough to sustain the costs of publishing.
So what to
do about the newspaper industry that is so important to our
daily life? How about a bailout? If we can give AIG and GM and Chrysler
the big banks billions of our dollars, how about giving the
newspapers a few million? Chump change. The feds leak that much on the
way to the mailbox. The congress puts more than that in earmarks and
pork. Just think of all the delivery personís jobs they can save.
all, they still must buy Tootsie Rolls and comic books.
If you agree, write a letter to your editor.
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