Monday, February 06, 2017

50 years ago today

Today - Feb. 6, 2017 - is the 50th anniversary of my first day at The Indianapolis News.

I came to The News after five months at The Tipton Daily Tribune in Tipton, Ind. The News, also known as The Great Hoosier Daily, was Indiana's largest evening newspaper with seven editions daily, Monday through Saturday. My starting pay was $110 a week.

Over the next 33 years, I was a city desk rewrite man, city desk reporter, makeup editor, state and suburban desk reporter, suburban bureau chief... I shot my own photos to illustrate my stories most of the time and came to believe that a reporter who wasn't a shooter, wasn't a complete newspaperman (or woman). Happily, Maria wrote and shot photos too. I did about everything except over sports in my years at The News.

I started my newspaper career in the latter days of the hot type era when we wrote our stories on typewriters and printers set them in type on Linotype and Intertype machines. (In those days, a printer was a human being who worked with type, not a printing device attached to a computer.) Consequently, I know most of the arcane minutiae about printing with lead type, including the old "type lice" trick printers loved to play on rookies.

My career saw the advent of computers in the newsroom and the gradual phasing out of a whole generation of printers and typesetters and the transition of photography from film to digital.

I began to lose my enthusiasm for the job when The News staff got merged with The Star folks in 1995 and when The News ceased publication in 1999. I hated working at The Star and by October, 2000, Gannett had sucked the last bit of fun out of it.

So I fired The Star for wasting my time and took early retirement at age 55.

Since then, I've been a volunteer at Maria's newspapers in Crawfordsville, Ind. and Jonesboro, Ark. and can honestly say I've spent my entire adult life watching bean counters and other idiots ruin perfectly good newspapers.

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