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Opening Arguments

Playing the news

The same debates about what should go on Page 1 apply to other newspapers besides college ones. The Wabash Plain Dealer, where I began my career, once had a policy that nothing but local news could ever go on Page 1. This led to some devious maneuvers when very big national stories broke. The staff managed to get the 1969 moon landing on Page 1 with a story that began something like this: "Wabash residents were awed and amazed yesterday as they watched the astronauts of Apollo . . . "

My semi-colleague Ed Breen (because he works across the hall at The Journal Gazette), on the other hand, tells of a newspaper with a policy of never putting local news on Page 1 -- there was a local-news section and, by God, that's where local news belonged. This policy also led to some deviousness. There was a very big explosion in town -- the kind of thing that begs for front-page coverage. So the staff quickly called in all the details to the wire service, the wire service put the story out, and that's what the newspaper put on Page 1.

Posted in: Hoosier lore