Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Shoptalk: Like Father, like Son

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Shoptalk: Like Father, like Son

Article excerpt

Like a lot of journalists who occasionally wonder if they made a wise career move tarrying so long in the newsroom, I've got ambiguous feelings about whether I want my kids to follow in my footsteps.

Years ago, with my wife out of town, I found myself dragging my son Kieran, then 2 years old, to some now-forgotten early morning press conference. I explained to anyone who asked that I was giving the toddler some early career-aversion therapy. After all, wouldn't I be happier in my old age to see him and his brother making real money, one a lawyer, and the other, say, a geriatric physician?

At the same time, my kids have been on the receiving end of my proselytizing about newspapers virtually since their birth. I read them the funnies. I brought them geegaws from Nexpo. They do homework with pens that say, "The Herald-Times: See what's in it for you."

I regaled them, or bored them, with stories of the people, places, and events I'd never have experienced but for my press pass.

So what am I to think now? I've got a kid in the newspaper business -- and it's all my fault.

In the summer of 2004, when he was 10, my younger son Desmond was restless and missing his brother away at Scout camp. I was missing something, too: my neighborhood weekly paper. Whoever was delivering our block had dropped the route months before, and no one was stepping up as a replacement. I bought a copy at the store one day, and out fluttered a plain paper insert looking for carriers.

Say, Des, what's this?

He was interested, but then I was briefly worried -- and I'm ashamed as an E&P vet to admit this -- that the paper might think he was too young. Had I really learned so little about this industry I cover? "Oh, we've got kids who are 9," the circulation guy cheerfully explained.

So the next Wednesday, two bundles of newspapers appeared with the dawn on our stoop, and Desmond was in the newspaper business, doing his bit to reverse its circ decline.

We live in a Norman Rockwell-ish corner in the city of Chicago, and the paper Des delivers stirs memories of a bygone newspaper era. Its official name is Chicago's Northwest Side Press, but everybody calls it "the Nadig Press," after its family owners. An inky broadsheet unrelieved by a speck of color and apparently unfamiliar with the whole 50-inch web width fad, the Press won't be picking up any awards at Society of Newspaper Design competitions.

It operates, it seems, on just two design rules: Severely limit photos or other graphics, and try to use the same verb in all headlines on a page, so that "St. …

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