Another Mortal Blow to the Newspaper Game | Bleader

Another Mortal Blow to the Newspaper Game


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Say goodbye to this:

Not long after he won the Academy Award, Cliff Robertson flew his private plane down from Milwaukee for an unannounced visit, and found himself in the back of a red Sun-Times delivery truck on his way to the after-hours hangout Oxford’s Pub, in company including Al the Greek, a bag piper, and Jake the Dominatrix, who was flogging a new friend with a belt.

Most evenings, of course, it was not like that. When Chicago still had four dailies (the Sun-Times, the Tribune, the Daily News, and Chicago’s American, later renamed Chicago Today) it was as competitive as any newspaper town in America, and many of the reporters and photographers knew one another. Trucks would deliver bundles of the early editions for us to pore over. The day’s Royko column might be read aloud. Editors were libelled and publishers despised.

That's Roger Ebert reminiscing in Granta about the lost and lamented O'Rourke's pub at a finer time than this. Now they're gone. Half the papers Ebert named, but also the trucks, which have not been red for a while, and I believe at some point were yellow, but more recentlly blue. The Sun-Times has all but retired its fleet.

The Tribune, which was already handling home delivery of the rival Sun-Times, will soon start delivering the opposition to newsstands and honor boxes. The only Sun-Times trucks left will be the few taking the paper from the printing plant on South Ashland to the Tribune for distribution.

Not much romance in that, and no carousing movie stars in back sitting on bundles of newspapers. The trucks drove by night, and on their sides were huge pictures of whatever columnist was hot, or needed to be hotter. The noisy, profane drivers loaded up, rolled away from the docks at 401 N. Wabash, and took the 5-star edition into the silent city. Those trucks made 2 AM a very cool time to be out and about in.

A Sun-Times spokesperson couldn't tell me how many trucks there were in the fleet in the paper's heyday, and how many will be left after the Tribune takes over everything October 18. It's proprietary information, which I suppose it is, but is that a secret there's any reason to keep?

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