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Stanley Woodward's Paper Tiger

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Ben_Hecht, Apr 29, 2007.

  1. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    The unobtainable is again obtainable.

    The above book, out of print for decades and absurdly expensive in the second-hand market, has just
    been reprinted in paper by the University of Nebraska Press.

    $17.95, retail.

    Got mine at the Strand, for halvsies.

    Happy hunting. Happy reading.
  2. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    Thanks for the heads up. I've been told this is a must read and very inspiring, but I've never found it any library or used book store.
  3. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    I went front to back with this tome in one sitting at Metro Reference Library. Loved it.

    YHS, etc
  4. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    It's great, especially his description of the climate in Miami (when he was SE of the Miami News). But I like his "Sports Page" better.
  5. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    With luck, they'll reprint that sucker, as well.
  6. Xsportschick

    Xsportschick Member

    Yes, with any luck indeed. My copy is right here, a 1949 second edition. Toward the bottom of its frayed dust jacket is this note:

    "This volume is written not merely for those with a special interest in sports, but for all who are fascinated by newspapers. It will tell you about breaking into the business; the writing and editing of a story from press-box to copy desk; the art of being a columnist; the specialized details of how such events as baseball, football, boxing and horse-racing are covered -- all the excitement and techniques of a fabulous profession."
  7. Xsportschick

    Xsportschick Member

    But here's the kind of information that makes this book a classic:

    "The newspaper business is populated by geniuses and by lunkeads who march side by side and carry on the same work. If a man has the enthusiasm to stay with reportorial work, he will ultimately be able to differentiate between the two groups who supersede him. Thougth I hate to admit it, some purely routine performers are valuable men on newspapers. Through long experience they are able to execute their limited duties with extreme efficiency. They can write headlines quickly and take out the obvious errors which hurried writing spews over the copy paper. Unless they insist on projecting their own rather meager abilities into the story of a promising reproter, they seldom do excessive damage.

    Reporters, especially in the sports department where freedom of expression is generally permissible, frequently go to extremes of word-painting that take years off the life of the copy reader. Though the reporter and the copy reader may be fast friends and drinking companions, there is a constant conflict between them."
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Same as it ever was.
  9. Admit it. There's no way you walked out of The Strand with one book.
  10. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    I shall buy this book for my library and then everyone can read it!
  11. Del_B_Vista

    Del_B_Vista Active Member

    I'd managed to lay my hands on an old copy in 2005. Didn't pay that much for it. Read it, then Katrina washed it away. I'll pick another one up to remind myself of what I never would have become as a sports hack.
  12. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    From Paper Tiger:

    We scouted [Red Smith] in our usual way. For a month Verna Reamer, Sports Department secretary, bought the [Philadelphia] Record at the out-of-town newsstand in Times Square. She clipped all of Smith's writings and pasted them in a blank book. At the end of the month she left the book on my desk and I read a month's work by Smith at one sitting. I found I could get a better impression of a man's general ability and style by reading a large amount of his stuff at one time.

    There was no doubt in my mind that Smith was a man we must have. After I'd read half his stuff I decided he had more class than any writer in the newspaper business.

    At first I didn't think of him as a substitute for [John Lardner, who was also being wooed but was being difficult]. Rather I wanted to get them both. When dealings with Lardner came to a stop I was afraid I would have to go back to writing a daily column myself, which I dreaded. I thought of myself at this time as an organizer rather than a writer, but [Al] Laney was anxious to have a leave of absence to finish the book he was writing.

    ... It was very strange to me that there was no competition in New York for Smith's services. He was making ninety dollars a week in Philadelphia with a small extra fee for use of his material in the Camden paper, also operated by J. David Stern. Nobody in New York had approached Smith in several years. In fact, he never had a decent offer from any New York paper. I opened the conversation with Smith as follows --

    "You are the best newspaper writer in the country and I can't understand why you are stuck in Philadelphia. I can't pay you what you're worth, but I'm very anxious to have you come here with us. I think you will ultimately be our sports columnist but all I can offer you at the start is a job on the staff. Are you interested?"

    "I sure am if the money is right," said Red.

    We adjourned for lunch and I told him about the paper and what I hoped to make of the Sports Department. I told him I had lost all interest in sports during the war [which Woodward covered] but now I was determined to make our department the best in the country.

    "I can't do this without you, Red," I told him.

    I left Smith parked in Bleeck's and went upstairs to talk to [managing editor] George Cornish. With him it was a question of money and he blanched when I told him how much I wanted to pay Smith. I got a half-hearted go-ahead from George, but still I didn't dare make an offer to Smith.

    He owned a house in the Philadelphia suburbs and would be under great expense until he could sell it and move his family to New York. I suggested that we would perhaps be able to pay him an "equalization fee" until he moved his wife and children into Herald Tribune territory.

    I went back to see Cornish and broached this subject. No one can say George wasn't careful with the company's money. He argued for a while but finally agreed that if we were to bring Smith to New York, it would be fair to save him from penury during his first weeks with us.

    I was able to go back to Bleeck's and make a pretty good offer to Red. I explained to him that his salary would be cut back after his family moved.

    "But don't worry," I added. ""You'll be making five times that in three years."

    Of course, it turned out that way. As our columnist, Red was immediately syndicated. His salary was boosted within a couple of months and his income from outside papers equalled his new salary. Before anyone knew it he was making telephone numbers -- and he deserved it.

    I am unable to account for the fact that none of the evening papers of New York grabbed him. He could have been had, in all probability, for five dollars more a week than we gave him.
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