Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Your Daily Newspaper

"Family Weekly" from The Daily Plainsman, Huron, SD, 1959
 I feel like my generation is torn between two worlds - pre- and post-Internet.  I was born in 1968 and my parents, like probably 85% of my peers' parents, received the daily paper.  I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin (go Pack!) and the Green Bay Press Gazette was an afternoon paper in those days.  I very fondly remember my dad reading it nightly and making comments about various items (my favorite one was Dad asking my sister and me: "Guess Who's coming to the Arena?"  Us: "Who?"  Dad:  "Guess Who!", ad nauseum until we finally got that The Guess Who were coming to the arena.  Hey, I was 6 at the time.)

I loved poring over the Sunday paper - we always looked at the Funnies and the Family Weekly (later USA Weekend).  I also loved the circulars that would bulk up the paper around the holidays - in fact, my sister Jen and I used those circulars to make our Christmas lists.  We'd cut out EXACTLY what we wanted so that "Santa" wouldn't make a mistake.  The newspaper was also how I learned to read - my mom still swears to me that I was reading headlines at the age of three.  Of course, there was no comprehension - but how weird would it have been to hear "Vietnam Death Toll Rises" out of a three year-old?

A teeny-tiny Milwaukee Journal, only about 4" high - a premium from your newspaper carrier.  This one is from 1958 and it's a complete, two-section, 20-page paper.  AWESOME.

The paper was just always part of my life; I suppose it was a surprise to no one when I started working at one.  In 1993, after my stint in television, I thought I'd give the paper (my beloved Press Gazette) a try and I got the job of Ad Layout Coordinator.  Basically, I would be the paper "dummier", meaning that I would figure out the placement of the ads, with pencil and manila paper, for the entire paper (it surprised me to learn that the news content went around the ads, and not the other way around - makes sense, though, if you think about it).  I came in on the tail end of the "old" way of doing things, pre-computer.  Oh, I LOVED that job.  I really did.  Later on I moved into the finance department, which I also loved.  It was the best job I ever held (up to that point).  I only left because my first husband was transferred to Fond du Lac.  I was heartbroken.

Flash forward to 2005 - I got a tip that there was another newspaper job opening up in the finance department of the Fond du Lac paper, The Reporter.  I was the lucky recipient of that job - this was the job that I left to pursue my art dream.  And that is the only reason I left - I LOVED that job as well.  Interestingly, my best friends in my life happened because of those two jobs.

Milwaukee Sentinal from November 23, 1963 - the day after Kennedy was shot.

I worry sometimes about the future of the newspaper - it truly is our country's Fourth Estate.  We must have a watchdog to keep our politicians in line, both locally and nationally.  It scares me to think of this going away - this is an issue that shouldn't be taken as lightly as it is.  Newspapers have always served the towns that printed them - if we have no source of local news, who's going to be watching to be sure our lawmakers are working in our best interest?

A smattering of my old paper collection.

Now, onto the ephemeral part of the newspaper (my favorite part) - the paper as souvenir or record keeper!  I'll bet that every house in America has at least one newspaper article kept for posterity, whether it be an obituary, a photo of their kid on the front page, a wedding announcement, or a major national story.  In the photos I've shown the papers that I've purchased - the Milwaukee Sentinel from the day after Kennedy was shot; the "Green Sheet" from the Milwaukee Journal from the week after Truman took office in 1945; the Packer tab in the Press Gazette from Coach Bart Starr's fourth season, in 1978; and a Family Weekly insert from The Daily Plainsman in Huron, SD from 1959; but I have some of my own.  I kept copies of The Reporter  from January 1, 2000 and September 11, 2001.  I'll bet millions of people did.

I'll never cut these papers up (never say never!), but I have used other newspaper clippings in my artworks.  It's such a great material to work with - the ads especially!

"Three for the Show" ATC, made with movie ad from 1924

"Linotype" ATC, made with foreign newspapers and a packing tape transfer of an old linotype machine and little newspaper carriers from a 1957 kids' book called "Let's Go to a Newspaper"

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