Daily Chronicle General Manager (and former Editor) Eric Olson really made my day when he contacted me last week to remind me the newspaper will observe its 140th year in business in 2019 and asked me to write a piece about my memories of the paper during the time I was editor 50 years ago.
Being the oldest (living) editor, I guess he couldn’t go back in time much further for a first-person account. Clinton Rosette, founder of the Chronicle, is no longer around.
I began jotting down memories of my nearly four years at the paper and fantasized that this could become the springboard for a book, suitable for turning into a movie.
But let’s get real – it doesn’t have the pizzazz like “The Front Page,” the movie about the Roaring ’30s, when competing newsmen in Chicago pulled all sorts of shenanigans to get the “scoop” on the competition. And there was no Woodward and Bernstein at the Chronicle like The Washington Post, who exposed the Watergate scandal. That movie was called “All the President’s Men.”
So I will have to resort to more localized journalism, including “chicken dinner” news penned by country correspondents writing from their living room tables, and reporters fresh out of Northern who cut their teeth on the real world of reporting at the Chronicle.
We did have some prominent names, such as famed sports journalist Brent Musburger and Ray Gibson early in their careers. Musburger was about 10 years before my time at the paper, but I hired Gibson right out of college, after his days at The Northern Star, to cover the city beat. Then when I moved on to a bigger paper in California, I lured him away to head the Oakland news bureau for the paper. Gibson later came back to Chicago and became one of the top investigative reporters for the Chicago Tribune.
This column is meant to be a teaser for the essay I plan to write for the special edition early in 2019. But I have so many people to name, so many staffers that came and went back then, and some major events that made community newspapering thrilling and rewarding. Names such as Ray Robinson, Ralph Sherman, Paul Nehring Jr., Martin David Dubin, state Sen. Dennis Collins, Jeff Strack, Ina Glover, Lizzie Cooper and Don Duncan are just a few who come to mind as part of the story
I can reminisce about our greatest looking historic front page, fake news we published one April Fools Day, and the move from East Locust Street to Barber Greene Road. That was when we converted from printing on an old-old-fashioned letterpress to the new slick offset product, which resulted in sad layoffs and growing pains during that transition.
I had better not give away too much about my stint at the paper and begin working on my memoir before my memory fails me. That could be any day now ...