(I Read It In the) Daily News by
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(298 Stories)

Prompted By Newspapers

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♪ Civil rights leaders are a pain in the neck
♪ Can’t hold a candle to Chang Kai Shek
♫♪ How do I know? I read it in the Daily News
♪ Ban the bombers are afraid of a fight
♪ Peace hurts business and that ain’t right
♫♪ How do I know? I read it in the Daily News

Don't try to make me change my mind with facts, To hell with the graduated income tax. How do I know? I read it in the Daily News

Tom Paxton’s song came out in 1964, when I was in eighth grade, and I took it to refer to the New York Daily News, even though there are probably newspapers all over the country called the Daily News. My local paper growing up was the Newark Evening News, but nobody ever referred to it as just the News, and certainly not the Daily News, it always went by its full name. It was a well-respected paper, and prided itself on thorough, even-handed reporting, not like the paper Paxton is singing about.

While my family got the Newark Evening News delivered six days a week, on Sundays we got the New York Times. The main parts of the newspaper that I read on a daily basis were the comics and Ann Landers. (Of course the Times doesn’t have either of these features. I once won a bet with my first husband, who grew up in Bakersfield and didn’t believe that there could be a newspaper that didn’t have comics. I had to take him to New York and show him the Times.) I read these features lying on my stomach on the floor in either the kitchen or the dining room, with the newspaper spread out in front of me. My sisters remember reading the paper that way too. It doesn’t seem now as if that would be comfortable, but apparently it was then.

Most of the comic strips that I liked were just funny, like Blondie and Nancy and Bringing Up Father (remember Maggie and Jiggs?), so missing them on Sunday didn’t matter. But a few of them had an ongoing storyline, such as Apartment 3-G and The Phantom. Reading those on Monday, and realizing I might have missed a crucial plot element, made me sorry that we didn’t get the Newark Evening News on Sundays too. There was also sometimes a serial story, and I would miss every seventh chapter. But somehow I survived.

It was an excellent newspaper, and in high school when I actually had to read the news for my current events assignments, I could find articles on any topic I needed. I was shocked to learn, when researching it for this story, that the paper folded in 1972, the year I graduated from college.

Guys and Dolls by Hirschfeld

In the Sunday New York Times, I always looked first at the second section, Arts and Leisure, not so much to read about plays and movies, but to see the large Hirschfeld caricature that graced the front page of that section and find all the Ninas hidden in it. That was great fun! At some point, Hirschfeld started putting a little number next to his signature to indicate how many Ninas there were, which in a way made it easier, because when you had found that number you could stop, but in a way made it harder, because if you couldn’t find them all, you just had to keep scrutinizing it until you did. After that, it was straight to the Magazine, occasionally for the articles, but mainly for the crossword puzzles at the back. My mother and I would work on them together, and she taught me all the tricks of puzzling. In addition to the large conventional puzzle on the top half of the page, there were three different puzzles that rotated on the bottom half: puns and anagrams, double crostic, and diagramless. We would generally be able to finish the puns and anagrams and the double crostic between the two of us. We never even considered the diagramless, because we had no idea how you would go about solving a crossword puzzle that had no diagram, and we didn’t know anybody else who did either. (Nowadays, of course, one could go online to find instructions, but not back then. If you didn’t know, you didn’t know.)

In college I read the Harvard Crimson every day while eating breakfast. I don’t recall having to subscribe, I think everyone just got it automatically, delivered to our rooms before we woke up. I briefly considered trying out (“comping”) for the Crimson – I had been on my high school newspaper, the College High Crier, which was a great experience – but it seemed much too intense, and ultimately I found other activities that were more satisfying and less demanding.

My current newspaper is the Sacramento Bee, which used to be a terrific paper. I had it delivered to my doorstep for about forty years. It did a great job of covering all the news, and a better job than any other paper on California news, which isn’t surprising since this is the state capital. It also offered the New York Times crossword puzzle (albeit a week late), which I did every day for a long time. However, in the last few years, the paper has been getting thinner and thinner, with fewer and fewer reporters. Also, it used to be that when you went on vacation, you could stop the paper, and that number of days would be added to extend your subscription period. Then they stopped doing that, and said you had to pay for it whether it was delivered or not. In February 2020, they stopped printing a paper on Saturday and said that subscribers should activate their digital subscription and read the Saturday paper online. I didn’t like that at all, but it did get me used to reading the e-edition, which is a digital replica of the actual paper. They kept raising the price as they lowered the quality. We were paying more than $100 per month for not very much news, and we could read the e-edition for one-third as much.

Front page, Friday 1/28/22

The last straw was when they started making the front page one big picture, relating to some feature story, not even the news. They just do this a few days a week, not every day. But it makes it seem like a tabloid (the Daily News?), not a real newspaper. Here’s the front page of the paper as I am writing this story on January 28th. Two tiny boxes at the top about actual news, one about a local teacher getting fired, and one about a potential Supreme Court nominee from California. But apparently those are not as important as football! As a result of all these changes, last July, when we were going to be out of town for nine days and just reading the e-edition anyway, we sadly canceled the actual paper and switched to a digital subscription. I felt bad about it, but I said it was their own fault, because if they hadn’t stopped printing the Saturday paper, I never would have realized that I could make do with the e-edition. I do miss having a physical paper though, and — who knows — at some point we may decide to re-subscribe.

 

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Characterizations: right on!, well written

Comments

  1. John Shutkin says:

    A great series of recollections of growing up with newspapers, Suzy. I especially like your descriptions of reading the comics (still not in the Times!) and the order in which you read different sections. A different order (and different sections) than mine, to be sure — no mention of sports, for example — but I love the idea that you, too, had such a reading order. And I also resonated with your ongoing dilemma about which papers to subscribe to and in which formats. Things we never had to deal with back in the 100% print days of yore.

    As to The Crimson, I am quite sure it was free and delivered to every dorm room every morning. Can you imagine trying to collect subscription fees from a bunch of scruffy college students? The effort wouldn’t have been worth it. And, as I noted in my own story, being on the Crimson really did preclude doing much else in college.

    Finally, I always love to read about other “Nina hunters” in Al Hirschfeld’s great drawings.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, John. Of course I have never read the sports section in any newspaper, it is of no interest to me. (Except for articles about Rafael Nadal, my current celebrity crush.) I’m glad you also remember the Crimson as being free, although Khati tells a different story. I wonder if there is some way to go back into the archives and find out for sure. Glad to know you were a Nina hunter too.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    How wonderful that you were an early and eager reader of so much news from such an young age. I love the image of you, resting on your stomach, reading the funnies and Ann Landers. Also marvelous that you and your mother did all those puzzles together. No wonder you are a wonder with words!

    I agree that local news is getting thinner and thinner. The Boston Globe isn’t in the same condition as The Sacramento Bee, but buys a lot of its content elsewhere (the AP, NYT, WaPo); it’s just sad that they can’t afford to do their own reporting. With a paper subscription, we get online access and can still put it on vacation hold for up to 3 weeks (and, as you described), can still push out the payments. But when we were in London for a month, we had to take out a different, online subscription, which only had one online email access (Dan logged in as me). Though I wanted my regular delivery to resume when we came home, it did not. I had to call to restart it. And three days ago, we lost online access. Turns out, the different online subscription lasts for two months, then gets shut off. The fact that we still had our regular subscription was somehow overlooked. I, again, had to call to straighten it all out (getting though to actually talk to a human takes time). They are just begging to be canceled, but I don’t really like reading everything on my computer (or my iPad mini), so I’m resisting (Dan would love me to cancel home delivery).

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    And I had forgotten about the “Nina’s” in the Hirschfeld cartoons. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    Great description of the decline and fall of actual papers. Those weekends poring over papers were a treasure. Someone in college must have subscribed to the Crimson, because not every room got a paper delivered (a least in 1968-69 as you can see from my story—I was the one who left those papers off—at least in some dorms). The papers have been slammed by the internet and need for a business model, as well as a full-fledged attack from those who would muzzle a free press, so I do feel a duty to subscribe and support them. Even though I don’t enjoy reading news online.

    • Suzy says:

      Khati, I just read your story about delivering the Crimson. John’s memory (as you can see from his comment, above) is the same as mine, that we just got it automatically without having to subscribe or pay. Sounds like we need to do some research on this.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    So many of us have told similar stories, Suzy, about the incredibly shrinking newspapers and the push to get us online. It’s funny how you also remember the comics that were serialized. I had forgotten about Apartment 3-G, which I also liked. My grandkids don’t understand why we even get a physical paper, but old habits die hard.

    • Suzy says:

      I agree, old habits die hard. But I feel like the newspapers (and magazines too) encourage you to read them online, by putting more content there than they have in their physical publication.

  6. Marian says:

    Great recap of various newspapers, and living in the same county as you growing up, we also had The Newark Evening News and got the New York Times on Sunday. How I loved those double-crostics, which I learned to do with my dad. I never attempted the diagramless puzzles either. It’s really too bad about the Bee. I used to enjoy it when I visited Dick’s family up your way, and I think they recently gave up on it as well.

  7. Kathy Porter says:

    Very nice descriptions of your evolving interest in newspapers. I’m sure the Sacramento Bee is suffering from the same problems as many local newspapers. Advertising revenues are way down and they are having trouble staying afloat. Fortunately, my local paper is the Washington Post, which is still doing well (thanks to Jeff Bezos), although they also nickel and dime their subscribers. (They have never given subscribers credit for temporary subscription stops.) But I have subscribed to the Post for decades, although now I am down to just Sunday, which gets you a digital subscription to the rest of the week. For a long time after the 2016 election, I subscribed to several papers online, as I was afraid of what would happen if print journalism disappeared. Apparently my little subscription was not enough for some of them, however.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks for your comment, Kathy. I guess the Post is lucky to have Jeff Bezos funding it, he doesn’t care if it loses money. Nice that he added the slogan Democracy Dies in Darkness too. We have a digital subscription to the Post and the NYTimes, but I think it just gives us access to individual articles, as opposed to being able to see a digital replica of the physical paper. Maybe I could do that too, if I took the time to figure out how.

  8. Brava Suzy, I love a California girl who loves the NYTimes, and fun reading about your newspaper life

    I too remember lying on the floor to read the comics in the NYPost, actually lying under my fathers grand piano!

    We now have a digital NYTimes subscription too of course and Danny usually reads that, but I can’t see stopping the hard copy, and anyway I need it for the crossword. Somehow I never did those other puzzles except for the KenKen which may look like a math puzzle, but if you know it you know it tests not math but logic – hope this and WWF will keep dementia at bay!

    • Suzy says:

      I’m really not a California girl, Dana. I just happen to live here.

      Glad to learn that you read the comics lying on the floor too. Lying under the grand piano sounds dangerous though, you might get up too quickly and bang your head!

  9. Jim Willis says:

    I enjoyed your newspaper memories, Suzy, and I was also an avid reader of comics, from The Wizard of Id, to Peanuts, to Doonesbury.

  10. I’m trying to figure out how you could lie on the kitchen floor and read the paper. Did people just step over you? But more to the point, your description of the demise of the print version of the Bee (an excellent paper) and your local NJ paper points to a serious loss to corporate consumption. Local papers were so valuable in covering local AND outside news. Their independence was scattered, but vital. When I was working at Constitutional Rights Foundation, I escaped the office daily with a copy of the LA Times, giving me a healthy respite from glowing screens.

    • Suzy says:

      I suppose people may have stepped over me. I know nobody ever stepped ON me. See Dana’s comment – she read the paper lying on the floor too! And the Bee hasn’t died (yet), it has just gotten thinner.

  11. Susan Bennet says:

    A charming recollection of your childhood newspaper reading, Suzy.
    It got me to thinking how the Sunday paper was divided up in our house: sports section to “the boys”; society section cum wedding announcements to me first (funny little biographies –“The bride is the daughter of XX and YY of Saddlesoap, NJ”) followed by Ann Landers, if she appeared Sunday; comics (after all, Brenda Starr might just finally marry Basil St. John some week) and crossword; and at some point a light bulb went off and Dad and I passed back and forth the real news sections. Thanks for bringing back the feeling of those Sunday mornings. Such sweet time.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, Susan. Nice to know that you divvied up the paper by sections. I don’t think anyone read the sports section in my house, because we were all girls except my father, and I’m not sure he had much interest in sports.

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