Mari Podcast: A Tour of the Midcentury Newsroom

new logoFor the 99th episode of the Journalism History podcast, hosted by Ken Ward, author Will Mari gives a tour of the American newsroom as it existed in the mid-20th century, introducing the various roles involved in the newsgathering process both inside and out of the newsroom.

Will Mari is an assistant professor of media law at Louisiana State University and author of the book The American Newsroom: A History, 1920-1960.

Transcript 

Will Mari: Might be a lot of swearing, a lot of yelling, a lot of noise. You probably would be a little bit thrown off by it. It’d be like walking into an aircraft hangar, maybe, and hearing the mechanics on the airplanes just yelling at each other, which you have to do if it’s that noisy.

Ken Ward: Welcome to Journalism History, a podcast that rips out the pages of your history books to reexamine the stories you thought you knew and the ones you were never told.

Teri Finneman: I’m Teri Finneman, and I research media coverage of women in politics.

Nick Hirshon: And I’m Nick Hirshon, and I research the history of New York sports.

Ken Ward: And I’m Ken Ward, and I research the journalism history of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, and together we’re professional media historians guiding you through our own drafts of history. Transcripts of the show are available online at journalism-history.org/podcast.

 This episode is sponsored by the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. For more than a century, the college –

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has educated students to relentlessly pursue the art, science, and integrity of stories. They’re committed to following First Amendment principles in a digital-first environment as they prepare democracy’s next generation.

 Take a moment and imagine in your head the typical American newsroom. What do you see? For many people, you may be imagining something you’ve seen in a movie like Spotlight, or for some of you who are perhaps a bit more seasoned among us, something like All the President’s Men. In either case, following intrepid reporters in pursuit of the story. And for many of us, we’re probably building the newsroom around the reporter and putting them in an era that we can relate to. We’re probably not imagining the newsroom of a generation or two before any of that, the span from about World War I through the start of the Cold War, an era mistakenly believed by some to be slow or absent of innovation. And odds are, we’re neglecting others in the newsroom, and that we’re lumping all those reporters together –

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as though they’re all the same, even though their work often involved vastly different skill sets and fulfilled different functions in the massive industrial undertaking that was the daily newspaper.

 In this episode, I’m joined by Dr. Will Mari, assistant professor of media law at Louisiana State University and author of the book The American Newsroom: A History, 1920-1960. Will is kind enough to take us on a tour of a typical mid-century American newsroom and introduce us to the various roles performed by those in that newsroom, and along the way he describes some of the major shifts experienced by the newsroom during this often overlooked period in American media history while helping us to understand the promise and problems of the state of transition that today’s newsrooms are themselves in.

 Will, welcome to the show. So I just, I absolutely love this book, and I learned so much about this era and about this topic, and I thought that I understood it to begin with, but it turns out not so much.

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For you, though, why this era? Why the 1920s through the 1960s? What is it about that time?

Will Mari: Yeah, so it’s kind of thought of as a stable, unchanging golden age and I tend to be a little suspicious of these, these moments where nothing happened because I know lots of things probably happened. And so –

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari: – I was just curious about looking into this particular time period, mostly based on a hunch that maybe it was actually pretty busy and lots was going on. After, after all, we have, you know, two world wars, the beginning of the Cold War. There was a lot of other history happening during this time period, and my adviser, Richard Kielbowicz, was also a big supporter of investigating this supposedly golden age for journalism.

Ken Ward: Well, that makes sense. Well, so let’s take kind of a tour of this space, like the American newsroom at mid-century. Right? We’ve got to pick a date, so maybe we’ll, we’ll stick right there in the middle, like the 1940s and the 1950s. So we’re in the average newsroom, and, and this was interesting in your book. It’s very specifically –

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the average Midwestern newsroom. And so take a, take a minute to talk about that. Why, why aren’t we in sexy New York City? Why are we in Kansas City or somewhere like that instead?

Will Mari: I think Kansas City and places like Oklahoma City and even Chicago and, you know, Minneapolis and St. Paul, these cities represent more of the typical newsroom city. A metropolitan newspaper would have at least 100,000 circulation, but it wouldn’t be in the millions like a New York paper would be or LA paper might be, or a few Chicago papers, compared to Chicago as a second city. Uh, but I really tried to avoid, I tried to avoid making it too much about New York City, the story of the newsroom, ’cause I feel like it’s really a national story, and if you’re trying to do a national history of a kind of space, like a laboratory or a factory or any kind of workspace, it’s good to avoid like the one or two spots that get lots of attention anyway, which is great. I’m glad that people like Nikki Usher and Aurora Wallace study New York City and its newsrooms. That’s really important, but I love the idea of just walking into a newsroom –

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in the middle of the country in the middle of the day in the middle of the century and just kind of experiencing what news was like when it was manufactured in those kinds of spaces.

Ken Ward: Sure, and are there big differences between, you know, like this these papers in New York and in other parts of the country, or is it just a matter of scale?

Will Mari: Uh, scale. There’s also a different attitude maybe about your competition. You know, there might be a couple other rival papers in town. But really, you know, you know everybody, and so it’s much more of a community, even if you’re rivals with let’s say the morning paper across town. You’re the evening paper. Uh, it’s not so much a life and death struggle as it is a – it’s a healthy competition and so I think there’s a different vibe, as the kids say, with the newsrooms of the –

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari: – mid-century, middle of the country. Still competition driven but maybe not quite as cutthroat and intense as you would find in New York.

Ken Ward: Sure, that makes sense. Okay, so, so we’re in the newsroom. We’re in the American newsroom. And –

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: – just for, for listeners who –

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who don’t understand, you know, this is surprisingly just one relatively kinda small part of a much larger building. You know, you see a news building and you assume the whole thing is, is reporters running around, but –

Will Mari: [Laughs]

Ken Ward: – there are lots of other departments. You know, the presses and the delivery dock and the people who work with that, that equipment or they’re, they’re in that space. Another thing we notice when we look around this newsroom is I don’t see anybody from advertising. I don’t see anybody from –

Will Mari: [Laughs]

Ken Ward: – circulation. What’s up with that? Where are those people?

Will Mari: Well, they’re in a different part of the building. And I tell students that the newsroom is sorta like the cockpit in an airplane. I mean the airplane is probably 99 percent not the pilots, so –

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari: – it’s good. You don’t want them flapping the wings, you know, out there on the wings. That’d be a bad sign. Um, but the, the newsroom space is the headquarters, the nerve center, kind of the computer, I guess, of this large factory that was manufacturing newspapers as a product. Another good metaphor is making milk. Michael Stamm’s book, Dead Tree Media, talks a bit about this analogy that, that the newspaper was very –

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prone to spoilage, so you would have breaking news from your rivals in radio and then TV, and so you really had to hustle to be competitive even if you provided more of that analysis bit. But it’s, it’s separate from the other parts of the newspaper because it’s supposed to be where the news gatherers and producers and editors all, all assemble, and I think the first thing you would notice is definitely how noisy it was, depending on time of day you were at.

 But let’s say it’s, let’s say it’s a late morning or something like this, and you have a news meeting, a news conference. Might be a lot of swearing, a lot of yelling a lot of noise. You probably would be a little bit thrown off by it. It’d be like walking into an aircraft hangar, maybe, and hearing the mechanics on the airplanes just yelling at each other, which you have to do if it’s that noisy.

Ken Ward: [Laughs] Sure. So, so we’re in this room, then, and we see like big sea of desks, like it’s all –

Will Mari: Oh, yeah.

Ken Ward: – of these desks, and those belong to the reporters. Right? So maybe we should start there.

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: What’s it like to be a reporter in this era? I know it’s, it’s 40 years. That’s a – that’s a big span of time, but –

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: – what’s it like to be a reporter in this time? How did they get here?

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What’s their job like and –

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: Yeah, start there.

Will Mari: A lot of them would have ridden their bikes in or taken the bus and, or carpooled. I mean not everyone had a car, but let’s say you drove your car. Maybe you’re doing pretty well for yourself. You’re like a, I don’t know, a ten-year veteran of the newsroom. Uh –

Ken Ward: Mm-hmm.

Will Mari: – you’ve driven yourself, maybe a buddy in to work that morning. Um, and the desk that you have is your space. You get to have that little chunk of space. It’s sort of like if anyone’s ever been to a software company, you know, a programmer or some, some other person who was a tech worker has usually one small piece of real estate in this big sea of desks and that is their spot, so they customize it. Some people are really neat. A lot of people are pretty messy. You might have piles of papers on your desk. Maybe it started out with the ambition [laughs] of being a clean space –

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari: – and instead you have all these clippings on your desk, ’cause see there’s no way to look at the news unless you go to the morgue, which is the newspaper library. Uh, you can’t Google old stories. So you might keep a lot of clippings for your own reference book on your desk. You have lots of things and stuff all around you and you have a phone, which is your one –

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piece of technology besides your typewriter you use to, to get the news. There’s no computer, of course, anywhere in the space, not, not for another 10, 20 years at least.

Ken Ward: Okay. And, you know, depending on the time of day, we may walk into this space and, and wonder where everyone is, right? Because there are times where it’s very busy and loud, but a lot of the time the reporters, lot of empty desks. So where would they be? What are they doing and how are they doing their job if they’re not in the space?

Will Mari: Yeah. So you’re probably gonna find that even at, you know, evening paper, there would be a lot of people who are gone, you know, in the early afternoon, going out and hunting down stories or going to the courthouse or to, in some cases, the various local government buildings in town. You know, if it’s a small town you’re at the mayor’s office/the city council/all the other offices in one big building. In a typical town in Indiana, for example, you have that around one city square. Um, so you might be at a place like that, or you might be at the scene of a crash or you might be, if you’re lucky, traveling maybe someplace farther away –

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 if you’re a correspondent or maybe you’re a columnist. Um, but you’re supposed to go out and get the news and bring it back, so you’re not really supposed to be there for part of the day, which is part of the fun of being a reporter. You don’t have to be there all the time.

Ken Ward: Well, and in this era, and this is something that I was learning about while I was reading your book. It was really interesting. There were, right, the idea of the leg man. Right? The person –

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: – who is out of the office, and that’s kind of where they do –

Will Mari: [Laughs]

Ken Ward: – not just, you know, their, their news gathering, but that’s where they do some of their composing in their heads, and then over a phone.

Will Mari: Mm-hmm.

Ken Ward: Can you talk about this new position? There’s, there’s a section of the office or of the newsroom where we’re gonna see these folks called the rewriters, and what that relationship is all about? ‘Cause that’s something I don’t think we have – or maybe we do have parallels to in modern media that, that I’m just not thinking of right now.

Will Mari: Yes. This was a kind of job that you had because you had a machine, a telephone, a technology that would allow you to get news from far away, but you wouldn’t be able to type it up necessarily unless you had a fancy schmancy portable typewriter, which you could have if you were a correspondent or a columnist –

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 but let’s say you don’t have that. Uh, you have to call your story in from the field. So you race to the nearest phone. Sometimes you have accidentally, in air quotes, broken the phone –

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari: – uh, on purpose so your, your rival from the other paper, maybe the morning paper or the evening paper, they can’t get to the phone and make it work, or you’ve paid a kid to literally read the Bible into the receiver –

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari: – until it’s time for you to use it. Anyway, you get to the phone, you call your story in. That means basically you do what you just said, Ken. That’s really, you know, very prescient there. You previewed what I was gonna say. You’ve written your story in your mind a little bit with a beginning, middle, and end, you know, in that awesome inverted pyramid style so that you have your facts that are not quite as important toward the bottom. On the other side in the newsroom, the few folks that would be there would be a few senior editors and, of course, these rewrite people, rewrite staff who would take your stories as a leg man and they would go ahead and rewrite them for the paper, sometimes for that very afternoon.

Ken Ward: So who else do we see in this room, right? If we’ve got this big, big room full of reporters –

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 I do see some offices sort of lining the edges of this space.

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: We can talk about them. There’s also this weird U-shaped desk in the space.

Will Mari: [Laughs]

Ken Ward: And I know sometimes it might be a different shape, but if we’ve got all these reporters in here, are these also reporters? Who else is in this big open space?

Will Mari: Yeah, so the few folks who would be there for sure in the middle of the day, you know, would be the copy editors, who are often older reporters who have transitioned into a more sedentary role. They might have older children or maybe they are literally gimpy. They have, you know, they have, getting to a point in their career where they can’t race around anymore. They might have injuries or health conditions.

Ken Ward: Mm-hmm.

Will Mari: But they’re all very spry in the mind, of course, and so they’re there to do the fact checking and a lot of the just basic grammar and spelling fixes. This role was kind of a versatile, all-purpose role, and nowadays, you know, we miss them when we don’t have them as much, but they’re still there, still around and they’re still really important, especially at a magazine, you know, or other kind of long-form journalism place. Even online you really need those kinds of folks. But anyway the U-shaped desk would have a copy chief on top.

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He or sometimes she would be supervising their copy editors below them around the edge of this desk, and they would pass the copy toward the copy chief heading toward the top of the U, or in some cases a W or a T or any other kind of letter shape and that would get one last check by the copy chief.

Ken Ward: So what about how this space is laid out, then? So we’ve got these desks scattered around. One of the really interesting things your book focuses on is the spatial relationships that exist within the space of the newsroom. How, how does that hierarchy play out in terms of who is sitting where among the reporters in relation to some of the other spaces in the newsroom?

Will Mari: Yeah. So you’re asking kinda how, how the shape mattered, you know, for the, for the people working in it?

Ken Ward: Sure. And –

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: – and, you know, does, does where you’re sitting in the newsroom denote anything about your, your –

Will Mari: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Ken Ward: – status or hierarchy within the organization?

Will Mari: Yeah, definitely. If you’re in the corner away from the editor, you’re probably not that important. You might be a cub reporter, which is not a bear in the form of a reporter but a literal newbie –

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a cubbie, and, and your job would be really to impress your bosses. You’re sort of a super intern. You graduated from being somebody who runs errands to maybe doing some light writing, or you might still be doing that role and you might have a desk you share with, you know, four or five other kids, and they often were younger people who were in high school or sometimes in college. Um, but the closer you were to those edges of the newsroom, the more important you were. So, so and the star reporters would be sitting maybe, if you have the picture in my book on page 24, the illustration by my brother-in-law, Jeremiah Moon, who does such good illustrations in the spirit of Stephen Biesty, that great British illustrator with those three-dimensional cutouts.

Ken Ward: Mm-hmm.

Will Mari: The folks toward the edges near the editors, they would be the stars and they would be the ones you would want to be like. So you’d be looking across the sea of desks kind of envying them and their proximity to the editors and thus the good stories and some of the nice [benefits] you would have if you had been there for a while.

Ken Ward: Okay. Now what about these rooms along the edges of a newsroom then, right? Who is occupying those spaces? You know, one of these –

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one of these rooms I’m sure compared to the others, which often have windows with people who can, you know, then they can look over the newsroom, but there is one room that is definitely not, [laughs] doesn’t have a window. Right? The darkroom.

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: So who’s working in there? What’s the relationship in particular with the reporters out in the, in the bullpen?

Will Mari: Yeah, so that’s the lair of the photographers, and they have their own space and their own customs and culture in that space. They would be developing photographs, which my hipster listeners, you know, they still do still do that.

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari: You can still develop your own pictures, and it’s really fun. It’s really messy, but it’s really beautiful to see your own photography come to life right in front of you. Um, that would be dark ’cause you don’t want any, any light in there to spoil the development of the photos. So you have red lights on in that room, for example, so you wouldn’t ruin the developing images. Um, but that would be a special space, and there’s also one group of people who are, you don’t see who are not in any spaces. These are women. They would be maybe in a different part of the building or if they did have a room, it would be –

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completely separate from the newsroom for the ladies section or ladies page of the paper.

Ken Ward: Why separate?

Will Mari: Well, they thought that the women couldn’t handle the rough and tumble craziness of the main newsroom and that, of course, would go away, right, over time. After World War II especially, women would not go back to the home. They would stay. They insisted upon staying, which is great and the, and the unions would help them with that. So you have maybe, maybe a few more women in the newsroom than you would before, and maybe you would, you would take off the door from its hinges and it would be more open to the newsroom, be literally more accepting for your presence to be there as a woman reporter and not just working on, on the women’s section, which of course is still important.

 Kim Voss talks a lot about this with her work on female food columnists and, and society reporters, and so does Candi Carter Olson. So these are really important people but they, yeah, they had a kind of a gender-segregated newsroom right on through the 1930s in most big newsrooms.

Ken Ward: What about some of these other offices, then, that are ringing the edge here, right? We have editors, but when we, when we say “editor” that’s a broad term.

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Right? What sorts of editors do we have inhabiting these spaces, and what’s, what’s their relationship with the reporters that they, that they’re looking out on?

Will Mari: Yeah, so there’d be three top dogs in the newsroom usually. There’d be the city editor, you know, sometimes called the metro editor, a few other variations, but that person is basically your immediate boss as a reporter, and that person may have just come from the reporters ranks themselves. But that’s kind of an intermediary between the reporting crew and the copy editors and what’s called the managing editor, and that person is really the day-to-day captain of the newsroom, sort of the first mate of the newsroom.

 And above him, and sometimes her, there’d be the editor in chief, and this person would be thinking about how to deal with the publisher and the owners and that kind of thing, and would look at the paper, you know, as a finished product, but wouldn’t maybe be as involved as the managing editor and city editor in the day-to-day production of the newspaper. Uh, and there was a joke, of course, if you had a title that had the word “editor” in it, it may not mean anything unless you had a actual paycheck to go with it. So there’d be –

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

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Will Mari: – lots of various kinds of “editors” in charge of aviation news, you know, or space news later on, or science news, but those folks more in editor name only. The arts editor and, and the editorial folks they have a little bit more leeway, and they are actually able to kinda speak as equals with the high mucky mucks of the newsroom. But they’re off in their own corner, the editorial people, for example, ’cause they’re supposed to be writing opinion columns that represent the voice of the paper anonymously without any bylines.

Ken Ward: Okay. And on of the things your book really focuses on is the evolution of labor relations. Right?

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: Unionization throughout this era, and as a consequence of that, right, we can really see the relationship between the editors and the reporters change. What was it like in terms of that, that boss-employee relationship at the beginning of this era compared to maybe when we’re hanging out in this newsroom now in the 1950s?

Will Mari: Yeah. Yeah. By the time you get to the mid-century it’s a much more white collar job with a lot more respect for I think different kinds of news workers and –

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less petty firings and people being tossed out at the whim of the editor or managing editor. Um, early in the century, though, you were paid by space, sort of by word, if you’re like a blogger today, and you could be fired much more capriciously. There was all kinds of infamous stories of people being canned because they were either late or maybe they were early and they caught the eye of the editor, or they didn’t do a good job on one story.

 So it was a much more, much more capricious, is the word I’ll use again, space earlier in the century before World War I. After both world wars, though, all these people have been drafted and served in the military and had a taste of some, you know, some authority and some responsibility, I think. Now both women and then later on people of color and, of course, your standard white guys, they all [laughs]

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari: – they all had a taste of some of that more distributed power, and I think the union really played into that and let them stand up for each other. So you have a much more collaborate space. Even the fact you would walk in, uh –

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to that, that news briefing or that news conference and you had a chance to kinda pick your story for the day and, and ask questions, that was a pretty late innovation at a typical newsroom, but a really important one for democratic power sharing in that space.

Ken Ward: Well, it’s interesting you mention that ’cause I wanted to ask you, you know, I find it absolutely fascinating how much more collaborative the entire enterprise –

Will Mari: Oh, yeah.

Ken Ward: – became during the period you’re talking about, and that includes things like the relationship between photographers and reporters, whereas early in the era your book says that the photographers were really looked down upon –

Will Mari: [Laughs]

Ken Ward: – and, and not really seen as peers by the reporters, whereas by the end of the era it’s much more a collaborate relationship. Is, is that come out of a, does that come out of a similar place, a similar shared experience in the war?

Will Mari: Oh, definitely. You have your news photographers who get to earn some fame, you know, themselves, people like Jack Price who wrote a column about photography for Editor and Publisher and published two books about news photography, talks about how they went from being kinda these scallywag piratical –

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figures who were kind of proud in their outcastness to, you know, being part of the team and, and that team of reporter and photographer, we do lament its loss, you know, and it’s something that should be fought for. I think it’s a really powerful combination. But that’s a pretty late innovation in the 20th century. Really only by the late 1940s and ’50s do you have a photographer with one reporter.

 Before, it would be one photographer would be sent out, take a lot of pictures. You may never see your photographer. You might even talk to him as a fellow worker or even as a fellow person. But having to spend all day long maybe in a radio car with your photographer, you know, by the time you get to the mid-century, your photographer colleague wouldn’t be “your photographer” anymore. You would have much more of a co-equal dynamic with your, with your colleague who is a photographer, and instead of being kind of an outcast you are much more of a comrade in arms. And Jack Price, who wrote about this phenomenon during the era, would talk about how, you know, eventually these photographers were thought of as, as like reporters. They were doing their own journalism.

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And the war effort I think really also emphasized the value of imagery, and in the battle with television photographers also become more important, and with radio.

Ken Ward: Sure. You know, I’m struck by one thing after we’ve sort of looked at this newsroom, and that is how different it looks than today’s newsroom. In some –

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: – ways I’m sure, you know, it’s certainly the same, but it, today’s newsroom certainly looks smaller and feels smaller. What’s lost and gained in the transformation from the newsroom that we had at, you know, mid-twentieth century to the newsroom of today?

Will Mari: Yeah, so it’s a great question. The newsrooms of today are much more like the newsrooms of the nineteenth century or maybe even the 18th century. They’re small and more mobile. They might be someone’s house like they were when they first began to be that kind of space. At the hyper niche hyper vertical news organization called GeekWire.com in Seattle, which covers the tech industry, there is a small office in Ballard. They do have as a newsroom, but many of the reporters and editors work from home or work from coffee shops, and so you have a space you can still go to –

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which is important for a shared identity, I think. But you might lose out on, on that in some places, which don’t, don’t have, you know, a central gathering spot anymore, and I think you lose some of that collective identity. Even if you can collaborate with all kinds of cool digital tools and work together on Slack, for example, which is actually a lot of fun – you can have your own channels and things. It drives bosses totally crazy and reminds me of the newsroom, and maybe gathering around the urinal to gossip about your boss when you, when you go –

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari: – when you went to pee and, and then to chat. Um, but there’s a – there’s a lot of things that you don’t have, you know, so that can be bad, too. And I do hope there is always some kind of newsroom space. Even a small one is good. Maybe you don’t need acres and acres of desks, but some kind of space is good. When I was the adviser at my last university’s campus paper, they had a space. It was in a basement. I moved them up to a basically a glorified closet. They had a window.

Ken Ward: [Laughs]

Will Mari:  But they were nearer the action. They were near the faculty –

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and they could be in there, at least a few of ’em at a time, and I think that made them feel like part of the team. And so I hope that even with small newsrooms we can retain some of that teamwork and some of that collaboration that I think is, is really there in these spaces.

Ken Ward: So in your book you say, along those lines, you say that the newsroom is both a physical space and a symbolic one. Uh, the quote was a pragmatic place and an idea. So if we could walk away understanding one thing about this place in this era, what would that one thing be?

Will Mari: Yeah, so the newsroom was a place that reflected its times. It was a primarily white institution for many years, and a primarily masculine one, you know, sometimes toxically so. But over time, it reflected society’s changing norms and integration and became a space that women and people of color could be at, and I hope that the ideal of the newsroom, the idea that you could work together to solve complicated problems and, and advocate for transparency, I hope that part sticks around. I don’t think we need –

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some of the uber macho, in league with those who are already in power vibes that you get sometimes from these spaces. The good parts, I hope, the soul of journalism parts that I am quoting Walter Williams here, those parts I hope those continue. And, you know, I’m hopeful that there will be newsrooms, even if they’re tiny, tiny ones, or they are coffee shops, and that that’s okay as we’re going full circle with the newsroom. So I tried not to end on a note of despair in my book. I try to end on a note of like putting these spaces in context, ’cause they were the product of their eras. They were industrial journalism buildings and newsrooms, and we still have journalism, but it’s not maybe industrialized like it was.

Ken Ward: Sure. So that brings us to the last question and, and we always like to ask the, the same final question of our guests so I’m really excited to hear what you have to say here. Why, in your opinion, does journalism history matter?

Will Mari: Oh, it matters because it shows you how journalism is and what it may, may yet turn out to be –

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and I think knowing its past informs its present in really profound ways. It doesn’t repeat itself, of course, but it might really help you understand why it’s so hard to recruit and retain people of color, or why it’s still really tough for women to make the same amount of money as men, or why making unions a thing is, is so tough in some newsrooms and in some journalism organizations. And so I think journalism history really helps you understand current events and problems in a better way, at least gives you some, some grounded thinking about, about problems that we face in our own moments.

Ken Ward: Absolutely. Well, I really enjoyed our conversation today, Will.

Will Mari: Yeah.

Ken Ward: And thank you so much for being on the show.

Will Mari: Thank you.

Ken Ward: Well, that’s it for this episode. Again, if you haven’t read it, the book is The American Newsroom: A History, 1920-1960 by our guest today, Dr. Will Mari. So thanks for tuning in, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast. You can also follow us on Twitter @JHistoryJournal. That’s all one word. Until next time, I’m your host, Ken Ward, signing off with the words of Edward R. Murrow: “Good night, and good luck.”

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