September 25, 2009

This Just In...

I've been hoping I could slip this into another post, but that just doesn't seem to be happening, so before things get any further along here at O Dock, I'd like to bare my soul (no pictures, please).

Occasionally, I'll say in a post or comment that I 'work for a newspaper'. While I do, lately I think some are assuming from that that I'm a newspaper writer.

I'm not.

While I've worked at newspapers for too many years, I've never been a reporter or writer. And the last thing I want to do is leave the false impression that I am one.

Reporters certainly earn their keep. It ain't like writing blog posts. You don't get to choose what you write about or when you write it. And in today's litigious minefield, the slightest mistake can be very, very costly - lawyers being much better paid than writers.

But while I'm stuck in a cubicle now, for most of my years in newspapering, I was a photographer.

I started long enough ago that the term 'photojournalist' still makes me wince a bit. I'm proud of the fact that I was a news photographer. It's a noble enough profession not to need the help of that 'journalist' nonsense at the end.

Call it what you like though, it sure as hell is fun.

A while back, a well-known blogger posted about watching a presidential motorcade go past him. He felt kinda jazzed just to see that. But imagine what it would be like to actually be in one of those motorcades - inside the secret service lines, walking down the street with the President.

Of the United States.

You get to do cool stuff like that as a news photographer. You don't even have to be a photojournalist.

I began as a stringer at one of our major (and now defunct) wire services just as the old teletype days were gasping their last. I got to see the very end of that world that is depicted in those awful newspaper movies of the '30s and '40s. Teletype operators, green eye shades, five bells for a bulletin.

Thunka thunka thunka - the teletype comes alive.

And then the rat-a-tat clatter of the keys.

And then that line that still gives me goosebumps:

........From the wires of United Press International.......

Yeah, for a while, that was my life.

Radio wire, A-wire, B-wire, State.

Staking out courthouses.

Waiting all day in the rain.

Pressbox lunches.

Club sandwiches at midnight after the game.

Running film back to the bureau to beat the damned AP.

Always, the damned AP.

And then there was the night Kate Smith sang God Bless America and the Philadelphia Flyers won the Stanley Cup at the loudest game in NHL history. Guess who had the only frame of the winning goal?

The fellows over at the damned AP were crying in their beer that night!




  1. Some of those newspaper movies of the 30s and 40s might have been awful but "His Girl Friday" is an absolute favourite of mine.

    One time I might be able to actually follow what they say!

  2. Wait a minute, I'm not THAT old.

    I didn't say I was around in the '30s and '40s.

  3. ...although today, I guess anyone who knows what film is, is old.

  4. Wow, that is a COOL shot but how did Jason Voorhees get into the picture? Was he even born yet?

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  6. Great shot. Great post.

    I'm old!

    I remember records and eight-track tapes, too.

  7. How come you did not show a video clip from one of those awful newspaper movies? This would be a much better blog if you should a video or two. ;)

  8. How come you did not post some pictures of ladies in bikinis holding big fishes? This would be a much better blog if you were to post some pictures of ladies in bikinis holding big fishes every Friday.

  9. is that Ed Westfall next to Cheevers?

  10. I'm actually thinking of going through Joe's old online archives, digging up some of his best fish, and reposting them here on Fridays.

    I'm going to call this new feature:

    Microfiche on Fridays

  11. Few know that Voorhees actually played for the Flyers, but using the name Dave Schultz.

    Fritz, my caption cards disappeared several millenia ago. We actually couldn't keep our negatives - they all got shipped to New York, where they were carefully archived and then dumped when the company was sold years later.

    I had to grab this from the Flyers' website. They bought the image and plastered it on every mug, tee shirt, and undergarment they could find. This was game 6 of the 1974 Cup and my Google tells me Westfall had moved to the Islanders by then.

  12. How *old* is the guy with the combover on the far right of that picture. Seriously, was this an old age home league?

  13. Yeah, back when I was on the sports desk, the photographers used film.

    (I wasn't actually a reporter either ... I was the agate clerk.)

  14. I worked for a newspaper for a while. It wasn't easy or glamorous. Odd hours. Dealing with tough customers, - sometimes even facing down fierce dogs.
    Riding my bicycle up steep hills to deliver those papers - which had better land right on the front porch or no tip that month....

    Cool post.

  15. Gerald is only 20 years old and has done some film along with all the digital. Photography and maybe even photo- with the j-word might interest him.