Newspapers ‘R’ Us

Husband JP and I are newspaper geeks. We met at a newspaper — Sidelines, the student newspaper at Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. We work for newspapers — he’s actually fortunate enough to get a regular paycheck from one. We talk and post and discuss and argue about newspapers (and also whose turn it is to clean out the cat boxes and which one of us forgot to buy beer). And we buy newspapers — you know, the old-fashioned kind made of paper — everywhere we go. When we travel, our hotel room is littered with newspapers. We take stacks into restaurants (although not the really good ones). We pile them in the back seat of the car and haul them home for additional perusal. In doing all this, we stumble across some fascinating things. Such as the fact that the May 27 edition of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press — the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend — weighed in at an incredible 2 pounds and, when folded, was 1 1/2 inches deep. This is, we calculated, about four times bigger than your average regular daily paper and seemed mainly due to an inordinately large amount of advertising inserts. Most papers, it seemed to us, had a lighter number of inserts for Memorial Day Sunday. Anyway, this is the sort of stuff that fascinates us. Just wait until you hear our discussion on Times Roman versus Times New Roman.

College Journalists

On Tuesday, my husband, John Pitts, and I led workshops at the Student Publications Boot Camp for the University of North Alabama’s student newspaper, the Flor-Ala. John did design and I did feature writing, although of course John equally could have done feature writing while design makes me throw up. (Who can handle all that stress and pressure???) Anyway, we had a great time. The world’s future is in great hands if these young people will be in charge. (Full disclosure: Older daughter, Liz, was the Flor-Ala lifestyles editor three/four years ago.) These kids are smart, engaged, enthusiatic, curious and a lot of fun — and are well on their way to making this semester of UNA student journalism a stellar one. Check it out at http://www.florala.net/home/.

On our way home, John and I wandered down Nostalgia Lane and talked about college newspapers today versus the olden days of the 1970s when we hung out in the Sidelines offices at the University of Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro. We noted differences: typewriters v. computers, drinking/smoking v. not drinking/smoking, diversity v. not much. And in the some-things-never-change category, we both agreed that college newspapers seem to attract the same motley crew of personalities no matter where or when: The free-spirit photographers, the creative art folks, the copy editor who just wants people to get their stories in on time, the writers who are serious about their jobs and the organized and determined editor who’s going to pull it all together. Aw, youth!

Anyway, thanks to the Flor-Ala adviser, MJ Jennings, for a great day. Hope we get invited back.