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Sept. 2, 2011, 2 p.m.

Weekend journo-reads, Labor Day holiday edition

Instapaper-worthy treats on newspaper strikes, labor reporters, and dancing newsboys.

It’s the last long weekend of the summer, and amid your barbecues and beach outings, we figured you might be in the mood for some good reading material. So, in the spirit of @Longreads and Longform.org, we bring you some journalism-related articles, defined not by length, but by their journo-relevance. Since it’s Labor Day, here are some union-related selections for your Instapaper pleasure.

Life After Newspapers: Learning from the 1962-63 New York newspaper strike
Jack Shafer, Slate, May 11, 2009

On November 1, 1962, the Newspaper Guild went on strike against the New York Daily News. That ushered in a series of events that would lead the city’s papers — among them The New York Times, the New York Journal American, the New York World-Telegram & Sun, the New York Daily Mirror, the New York Herald Tribune, the New York Post, the Long Island Star Journal, and the Long Island Daily Press — to suspend their operations. For 114 days. The event that would come to be known as the 1962-63 New York City Newspaper Strike converted New York City into an experimental laboratory that allowed Jack Shafer, almost half a century later, to ask: “What would life without newspapers be like?”

Newsboys on Strike
The New York Times, August 13, 1899

This account of an 1899 newsboy strike is very much a #shortread, but offers a fascinating insight into not just the newspaper culture of the turn of the century, but also the period’s sparse-but-dramatic narrative style.

Newsies (1992)
Katia Bachko, Columbia Journalism Review, August 19, 2011

The most epic and evocative take on the 1899 newsboys strike is, obviously, the movie-musical Newsies, which features a young Christian Bale, a young Bill Pullman, a fictionalized Joseph Pulitzer, and dancing. Lots — lots — of dancing. In a review of the movie, Katia Bachko (disclosure: a friend of mine) tells the story of Newsies through words and YouTube clips, appreciating the epicness of its cheesiness. “Yellow journalism,” she notes, “has never seemed so lovable.”

Can Salon Make It?
Paul Farhi, American Journalism Review, March 2001

Salon.com was born from a labor dispute. Back in 1994, when the San Francisco Newspaper Guild struck the Chronicle and Examiner, a group put out an online strike paper called the San Francisco Free Press. That experience, according to one of the group members, Scott Rosenberg, taught the group “how to put up a Web site.” And: “It turns out it was easy, and it was fun.” While you’re reading, you might also want to check out “Net magazine Salon epitomizes fate of mind over matter,” a San Jose Mercury News piece on Salon from late 1997 chock full of the-more-things-change-style ironies. (“But as 1998 begins, serious questions loom: Can Salon, or any other Internet content site, survive by itself?” Sounds familiar.)

The Press: The Union Beat
Time Magazine, September 10, 1951

Time Magazine profiles Louis Stark, the New York Times journalist who pioneered coverage of labor movements in the U.S., with a focus on his cultivation of the new beat over a series of years. Stark won a Pulitzer Prize in “Telegraphic Reporting” (today’s equivalent: National Reporting) for that work. “Whatever he covered (typing out his copy hunt & peck, then checking and re-checking until his deadline-conscious editors squirmed uneasily),” Time writes, “he won the confidence and respect of both sides without ever favoring either.” (One of our Nieman Fellowships each year is the Louis Stark fellowship, in his memory.)

Image by morganglines used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     Sept. 2, 2011, 2 p.m.
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