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St. Louis Post-Dispatch, around 1976. (Courtesy: Linda Lockhart)
Someday, maybe, Gen Z journalists will write nostalgic stories about newsrooms with big Chartbeat screens or the years they had to navigate everything from home and on Slack.
But for those of us mid-career and beyond, memory lane might have fluorescent lights, typewriters and ashtrays.
Last week, I shared a story and some photos ([link removed]) from a photographer who visited more than 100 newspapers in rural Kansas. In my weekly newsletter, Local Edition ([link removed]) , I asked for people to send me photos of their first newsrooms. I got some great photos and memories.
Before we skip down memory lane, though, I’d like to reshare this 2018 Nieman Lab piece ([link removed]) by Heidi Tworek and John Maxwell Hamilton on the “golden age” of newspapers, and highlight this paragraph:
“The 1940s to 1980s were a golden age for newspaper owners to make money and journalists to make news. But they were only a golden age for a certain group of people. Many citizens — women and African-Americans, to take just two examples — often did not see themselves in news reporting and had few opportunities to shape it …”
I started my career in 2003 and, while I have very fond memories of my first newsroom, I also have clear eyes about its — and my own — failings at the time.
OK, now, let’s remember:
Here’s journalist Larry Kramer at the San Francisco Examiner in 1974.
(Courtesy: Larry Kramer )
My former St. Louis Beacon colleague Linda Lockhart shared this 1976 photo from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
(Courtesy: Linda Lockhard)
Here’s journalist Derek Debolt in the early ’80s at a TV newsroom in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
(Courtesy: Derek Debolt)
Andy Bechtel, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, shared this image of himself on the copy desk at the Greensboro News and Record in 1991. The newspaper left the building a few years ago, he said, and the building is still empty ([link removed]) .
(Courtesy: Andy Bechtel)
On Twitter ([link removed]) , Samford University journalism professor Michael Clay Carey shared this image of the Lebanon (Tennessee) Democrat in 2000. The bulbous computers are a nice touch.
(Courtesy: Michael Clay Carey)
This one is pretty new, from journalist Juno Ogle of the Hays Daily News in Hays, Kansas, in 2018. This building is going to be a community STEM center.
(Courtesy: Juno Ogle)
Let’s end with a story journalist Pat Raia shared. Raia’s first newsroom was the Chicago Sun-Times, where she started in 1974. She remembered a haze of cigar and cigarette smoke and the chugging of teletype machines. Here’s her best story.
“The Sun-Times building had massive one-way glass windows looking out on the Chicago River. I was on duty one Sunday morning, when a young crewman from the ship anchored just outside our window was cleaning the masts — in the nude. I could see him, but he could not see me. As I stood there completely entertained, Mr. Anderson — I have no idea what his first name was as interns never called anyone but Mr. in those days — and I heard him whisper to the desk editor, ‘Find something for Patrice to do, will you?’”
Thanks for reading and sharing your memories.
Two notes before we go. If you're not following along with the work of MLK 50: Justice Through Journalism in Memphis, check it out here ([link removed]) and support that work here ([link removed]) . Also, if you've followed our industry at all in the last decade, you've probably followed the career of Mandy Jenkins. She's a change-maker in our industry and someone who approaches her work with hope and good will. Here's a GoFundMe ([link removed]) to help Mandy get home to Ohio for hospice. Thank you.
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