My advanced in-service training consisted of learning how to save time by keyboarding stories on the teleprinter as it transmitted, staying a few seconds ahead of the tape. This was a skill I taught myself.
Knowing how to type with more than two fingers was handy but not a requirement. It was a primitive business.
Journalism no longer is. In this century the demands on journalists have increased almost exponentially. I don’t know what UPI has done to keep up (years ago it was taken over by the Unification Church and virtually disappeared as a domestic news service) but our bigger, richer rival, the Associated Press, developed a training program that became a model for the industry.
I happened to turn on the TV and catch the last half hour or so of The Greatest Game Ever Played, which is a Disney movie about an underdog who prevailed. Our underdog was a young, unknown American amateur golfer named Francis Ouimet, who against all odds competed in the U.S. Open for the first time in 1913, took two top British professionals, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, into a playoff, and beat them both. Vardon was a previous Open champion considered the greatest golfer of his era. Ray was the defending British Open champ and he'd win the U.S. Open a few years later.
As I watched, I wondered. Was Ouimet’s caddie actually ten years old? Yes. Did Ouimet actually defeat Vardon by a stroke, steadying his nerves and sinking the decisive putt on the 18th hole of the playoff round? No. Ouimet won by five strokes. Oh, and the girlfriend was made up. In other words, the facts were often true but improved upon where necessary, and sweetened. The Greatest Game Ever Played is heartwarming, it's inspiring, it's the kind of feel-good movie for the whole family that no one makes better than Disney.
But the competition is keen. And this led me to my idea for the next great heartwarming movie.
The Chess column last Sunday, about Justin Sarkar, a New York international master, gave an incorrect move in a recent game between Adam Hunt and Mr. Sarkar. Black’s eighth move was h6, not h4.
What a relief this was! The move to h4 had befuddled me all week. If you caught the previous Sunday's story by chess columnist Dylan Loeb McClain—and I know you did—I don't have to tell you that Hunt was employing the Panov-Botvinnik Attack against Sarkar's Caro-Kann Defense. As McClain noted, this "can lead to complicated positions."
The Tribune's solution is to add this declaimer at the end of Candace Jordan's weekly column:
"Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers."
The company’s in a lot of trouble. A month ago it owed the News-Gazette Inc., which prints the Daily Illini, about $250,000. It was an old, intractable debt, and because of declining ad revenues and a big mortgage on the new four-story headquarters that Illini Media built in the mid-2000s, when it was a lot flusher, it was a debt that threatened to shut down the 141-year-old student paper and put the company out of business.
As you might have heard or read by now, the Chicago News Cooperative is suspending its contributions to the Midwest pages of the New York Times and its website effective February 26 so we can reassess our operations and determine if there is a more sustainable path to the future.
The Chicago News Cooperative will cease operation February 26, founder James O'Shea told his staff Friday afternoon. CNC, which has contributed four news pages a week of Chicago news to the New York Times and maintained a news-centric website since O'Shea launched it in the fall of 2009, asked the Times for financial support that would allow it to continue, O'Shea said, but the Times refused. There's been no quarrel in New York with the quality of the report that CNC provided, but it didn't increase circulation or draw advertising to an extent that made the Times willing to commit more money to it.
CNC's financial crisis came to a head last week, O'Shea explained, when the IRS issued a ruling that compromised the level of corporate underwriting and foundation support CNC could expect in the future. According to the IRS, tax benefits that would be received for funding particular projects would be denied if the funds were simply intended to sustain the operation. CNC's primary financial lifeline has been the MacArthur Foundation, which has given it a million dollars.
“[It will be] a home where image and word have equal weight,” said the editors in the first issue, “where photographers and writers have equal license to wander and to wonder: a home that welcomes poets and novelists, photographers and journalists, short-story writers and essayists, some of whom are known, and some of whom are unknown, and all of whom recognize the power of narrative to reveal and then to transform.”
Andrew Jones, e-mailing me from San Francisco to ask me to give his new monthly iPad magazine, Once magazine, some attention, referred to DoubleTake as a touchstone. Because the new issue is his fifth, and he sent along glimpses of earlier issues, I can take the comparison seriously. “We publish the best photographers in the world,” he asserted. “ Two of our contributors won World Press Photo awards a few days ago.”
The worlds of Broadway and Park Avenue and their respective wives put on their best bibs and tuckers last night and converged at Mr. Ziegfeld’s handsome new playhouse on Sixth Avenue. There they milled about elegantly in the lobby, were pictured by flashlight photographers and finally got to their seats and on to the business at hand. That was the inspection of the news offering from the workshops of the maestro, the much-heralded musical adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel, “Show Boat.”
We would flatter this passage by calling it merely archaic.