Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Jack McCloskey, Mineral County Independent News, Hawthorne, Nev

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Jack McCloskey, Mineral County Independent News, Hawthorne, Nev

Article excerpt

SINCE 1933, JACK McCloskey has run his weekly in the northern Nevada desert town of Hawthorne.

As Frank Sinatra crooned it, the crusty 82-year-old McCloskey has always done it his way. And never refer to him as a journalist.

When you do, he'll fire back:

"I beg your pardon. I am not a journalist. I am a newspaperman. When the journalists, now they call themselves professionally trained journalists, get their tit in a wringer, they hide behind the First Amendment.

"This so-called racket we have will never be a profession. That's because it's the only business, line of work or industry where you do not have to be admitted to practice it. Journalist is just a fancy word, and I don't want any part of it."

McCloskey's 16-page, broadsheet Mineral County Independent News boasts a solid paid circulation of 2,800. Nearly half of those are sold on press day, snapped up by eager readers from dozens of newsboys and girls working town streets.

When the Nevada sun sets behind the nearby Wasuk Range Wednesdays, 1,400 papers will have been purchased, McCloskey said.

Each seller earns a 15] commission on the 35] cover price plus tips, which are plentiful. "The week before Christmas, some kids will pocket $60 to $70."

Hawthorne resident Dana Strang, who works at a combination gas station/food mart/RV park, said, "I always get upset if the kids don't come to my house right away."

Sam, her husband and working partner, added, "Jack McCloskey is a neat guy. He probably doesn't know who I am, but everybody in town knows him. I like a lot of the views he takes in his column."

Ah, the column.

McCloskey called it "Jasper." The title goes back to the 1930s, when one of his readers presented him with a sample of jasper ore. The guy snorted, "It's one of the hardest metallic rocks around, Jack, just like your head."

For 59 years, a "Jasper" has appeared in almost every issue. That comes to more than 3,000. Or about 4.2 million words. His column doesn't have -- or need -- a byline. Almost all of the 7,051 souls of Mineral County recognize McCloskey's salty style when they see it. So do politicians in Carson City, the state capital, and Washington.

McCloskey's earthy, well-researched and sprightly written epistles run up to 1,400 words. Set double-measure, each fills two columns on page one and jumps to page two. Readers never know what topic will be touched. One week, it's the "Billary Presidency." Next, the Sierra Club crowd. Then, the ineptness of the local school board.

Among Nevada's newspaper people, McCloskey has numerous fans. They include Mike O'Callaghan, executive editor of the Las Vegas Sun and governor from 1971 to 1978.

"I find many of his 'Jasper' columns are excellent for our op-ed page. What he says pertains to people no matter where they live.

"I've known Jack since 1957. He's one foundation on which our state was built. Some may refer to him as 'a crusty old SOB,' but I like him. He's a hell of a guy. He's honest and straightforward. A handshake with McCloskey is as good as any bond you can buy."

McCloskey was born Sept. 19, 1911, in Goldfield, Nev.

His older brother, George, was a carrier for the Goldfield Daily Tribune. One day, McCloskey, then seven, tagged along when his brother went to pick up his papers. As they walked in the back door and through the shop, he was fascinated by the clattering Linotype and the deep rumble of two Miehle four-page flatbeds printing that edition.

The McCloskeys later moved to the bustling gold- and silver-mining town of Tonopah, which boasted two dailies. McCloskey, 11, landed a job hawking the Tonopah Daily Bonanza.

"Stay out of the red-light district," he was told by the circulation manager. Naturally, he had to check it out. "I discovered that the girls would usually pay 25] for the 10] paper. …

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