Tribute to a Newspaper

There used to be two newspapers here in Spokane until one folded in the mid-80s. Recently the remaining paper has experienced huge layoffs, 25% of the staff that skated past the last layoff 11 months ago, got their tickets this week.

I want to offer a Eulogy of sorts, a tribute and acclamation of Spokane's The Spokesman Review and its entire staff, a tribute to the former Spokane Daily Chronicle, and praise for all newspapers everywhere, as the technology age of the internet erodes away the benefits of news print on paper, books, magazines, the ability to READ.

I have been in the newspaper world since I was born. My Dad graduated from the University of Idaho in journalism in 1948. I was born and we moved from Moscow to Lewiston where Dad made his debut as a reporter at the Lewiston Tribune. His friendships grew to include all the Tribune writers, photographers, linotype operators.

There is a story of when my dad invited the newsroom staff to his house for a cocktail party. All were young (in their 20s) and all brought their wives. Everyone put their hats in the hall closet and all the women put their purses on the closet floor. Fine times were had and people left giggling and slapping each other on the back.

Next day all the men, and I mean all of the men, showed up to retrieve their hats and their wives purses.

There was a family feeling, an open invitation to barbeque and play games in the park kind of feeling.

Dad got an offer from The Chronicle when I was six (1955) and we caravanned with a couple other families to Spokane – one, Bob Larrigan, started at The Spokesman Review, Dad (Don Rice), started at The Chronicle. Same building. Same owners.

I spent many, many hours at the paper building. Many field trips were taken to the paper simply because my Dad was a reporter. Another student was the son of a reporter for The Review (Petty – can't remember the first name). We would tour both areas and end up in the printer room where a man would make all our names out in individual lead "stamps." I still have mine.

The friendships continued to grow involving both papers. It was a great life.

My dad was a true "investigative reporter" and would often work very closely with cops, attorneys, and judges. He investigated as good as any of the best PI's around. There was a long history at the papers for honesty, integrity, and printing the truth. They lived by that old standard, "who, what, where, when, why, and how." They answered each one diligently, honestly, truthfully.

[From a blog I posted at earlier in the day:]

My dad was one of the editors of The Chronicle. His name was Don Rice. Any article with his byline was considered factual and objective. He worked there from 1955 to 1982. He was well respected by all media outlets in Spokane, including the Spokesman. Interestingly, his friends included both papers, all television stations, cops, lawyers, and judges. He was known for his integrity and objective approach to news. He was a reporter first, a writer second. He was my hero and a giant in my eyes. I adored him and looked up to him. He passed away in 1993. I wept when The Chronicle closed. You do know that the two papers were owned by the same family - the Cowles. I don't remember a competition between the two; they each had the opportunity to scoop before the other just because of timing. There was a lot of old news in The Chronicle from events the night before, just as there was a lot of old news in the Review from events from the morning before.
When I was in school, we would take field trips to The Chronicle/Review building. It had a beautiful elegant hallway that stretched from Sprague (Chronicle) to Riverside (Review). There was a kid in my class throughout grade school whose father did the sports section for the Review. We never seemed to pick sides, we simply went through both papers and had a great time!
There is nothing like the drumming of several people typing on ancient Royal typewriters on half sheets of paper, the humming of the teletype as the keys seemed to tap dance their urgent message. I was fascinated with that place.
Today, it is very sad that the Spokesman is letting go 25% of their staff. I relate to this very well, because 18 months ago my office did the same thing. We are still recovering from that, the loss of friends, losing floor space to other tenants, trying to adjust to Dilbert-like cubicles, and trying very hard to regain the camaraderie and sense of purpose we left behind.

So – here's a tribute to you, Spokesman-Review and to your wonderful people. You all have carried the torch that my father once carried. With dignity, respect, honesty, and integrity. Your marble hallways will be less noisy but the echoes of all the people who have passed through your halls is lingering still. The smell of my Dad's vanilla tobacco still leaves hints in the air. I can still see the giant paper rolls turning and gliding and getting printed every single day with great news, columns, comics, recipes, announcements of births, weddings, deaths. Every year there was a story for kids for the month of December that I clipped and saved. All of my siblings read the paper, really read it, because our Dad's name was a byline every day. All the writers, reporters, photographers, machine operators, all were celebrities!

No comments: