Stop the Damned Presses!
eBook (PDF), 198 Pages
A look back at The Orange County Register during the tumultuous days of hellpots and hot type, when newspapering was fun.
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Aug 25, 2009"This review by Vance Durgin appeared in The Register" Sunday, July 24, 2005 Primary source recounts the Register By VANCE DURGIN The Orange County Register Veteran Register newsman Harry L. Graham, who worked in various editing capacities at this newspaper for 40 years, captures the experience in "Stop the Damned Presses!" Graham signed on here for $100 a week in 1962 after 20 years in the Air Force and a stint as news editor at the Orange Daily News. On his first day, the big story was astronaut Wally Schirra orbiting the Earth in his Sigma 7 spacecraft. Schirra was going for a record six orbits. Imagine. Schirra is still around today, but the Register newsroom that Graham writes about for most of the book's length is as dead as ancient Egypt. In 1962, the now-long-extinct afternoon edition - not the morning edition - was the circulation leader. Middle-age white men ran the newsroom. The workweek was five 10-hour days. Women were expected to fetch coffee.... More > Job qualifications were what you might call flexible. Words like "public schools" and "educator" were verboten in Register stories (the preferred terms were "tax-supported schools" and "school man," "school woman"). Alcoholism was not uncommon among the staff. Ethical policies prohibiting gifts from those seeking favorable coverage were nonexistent. Freebies from big advertisers were a way of life. And newsroom people were, well, characters. In Graham's telling, the Register newsroom of the early '60s sounds like something out of an old Hollywood movie. You can almost picture Jimmy Cagney as an upstart reporter looking to make good and Ralph Bellamy as the city editor who goes to bat for him - when he's not taking a swig or two from the bottle stashed in his bottom desk drawer. There actually is such a movie ("Picture Snatcher," Warner Bros., 1933) and judging from Graham's account, Hollywood's version of the business wasn't all that far off. Apparently, newspapering hadn't changed much between 1933 and 1962, and the Register reflected that. There are some silver screen-worthy people here, to be sure, none more so than publisher R.C. Hoiles, a larger-than-life figure worthy of a movie all to himself. Graham's encounters with the feisty Register owner add a few more details to the legend. And Graham has a few things to recount about other Hoiles family members as well. It's rare to get this personal a look at the operation of a newspaper over such a long period of time, as the book goes from Graham's 1962 hiring to the finish of his Register career in 2002 at age 85. Thanks to his acute memory (and the recollections of co-workers) and anecdotal writing style, the years come alive with Register history. It's a personal account, though, a detailed look at the Register life as Graham lived it. As such, it includes what was going on with him outside the paper as he dealt with the day-to-day issues of raising a family, including a daughter with Down syndrome, and his wife's many health problems. Does that make it too personal? Perhaps. But where else can you get the story of the Page One that went out with a huge blob of black ink instead of a photo? Of the copy boy who became a millionaire? Of the reporter who took LSD in order to describe its effects in a story (the drug wasn't illegal then)? Of the time a group of Hells Angels walked into the paper's library and walked out with the thick file of stories written about them? Of the paper's in-house loan shark? It was a different world, all right. A wild and colorful one that's worth recalling to show how far the business has come, true, but also to reflect on what's been lost. Because you just don't find characters like these in a newsroom anymore. Maybe Hollywood should have a look. Sweetheart, get me rewrite.< Less
May 29, 2009"Jeff Brody's comments" "I was one of the college kids brought in by (editor) Chris Anderson. Having a chance to work with Edd Clark, Forrest Kimler, Ed Lundberg, Pat Riley and Harry Graham exposed me to a world of journalism that has disappeared behind corporate cubicles and faded with the death of cold type. I am forever grateful to remember when the business was filled with characters. Harry has done an excellent job of bringing those free spirits who stalked the Register newsroom alive." Jeffrey Brody Professor of Communications California State University, Fullerton
Jun 15, 2005"Tom O'Neil reminisces" Harry Graham hit the nail on the head when he wrote about "when newspapering was fun." The fun ended when the smelly lead pots and Linotypes were replaced with carpeting followed by No Smoking edicts. Gone are the characters who used to haunt newsrooms and backshops, and I'm not so sure journalism has improved by it. Harry has captured an age and the atmosphere that marked the end of one era and the beginnings of another as reflected in the growth and maturation of The Orange County Register into what is now one of the nation's best newspapers. Harry's book is a must-read for any journalism student considering the print media as a career, but it would be worthwhile for just about anyone interested in the modern history of mass communications. Every journalism school in the nation should stock this book. And Harry's interspersing the chapters with family (and sometimes almost-too-personal) anecdotes are not only an an usual writing style, but... More > they add an often emotional insight into then author's personal life. As a retired journalist, I recommend it.< Less
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- Standard Copyright License
- October 1, 2011
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- 16.94 MB
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