Monday, November 26, 2012

Selling Dead Trees

"One of the problems of publishing a newspaper is that you have to sell something that is dead.  
"It was once alive, standing high in leafy splendor in the woods, swaying, breathing and sighing. But it has not only been cut down; it is floated down rivers, soaked in water, ground up, treated with chemicals, made into pulp, and put through rollers until it comes out as paper, shipped to SanFrancisco, trucked to Monterey and then run through a press. 
Not even the smallest bug on the bark, nor the smallest termite inside the tree, can stay alive through all this ordeal. 
"We can sell these pieces of dead trees only by creating the illusion that they are alive. This we attempt to do, with varying success, by headlines that grip the eye and written material that clutches the heart and soul of man." 
-- from a November 1963 editorial by Ed Kennedy, editor of the Monterey Peninsula Herald (renamed the Monterey County Herald in 27 years later).
Manuel Roig-Franzia, my former colleague at the Washington Post, quoted that editorial in part in a recent profile of Kennedy, whose experiences as a correspondent  during World War II are the subject of a posthumous autobiography, Ed Kennedy's War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press. Sounds like quite a yarn -- in dead-tree form or digitally.

Printing press photo above by WenRoo via iStockphoto.

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