When one thinks of New York tabloids — or New York journalism in general — one thinks of Pete Hamill. His very name conjures up nostalgic, sepia-tined images of ink-stained fingers and chaotic newsrooms brimming with zeitgeist.
Hamill, who is presently the Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University, does not get nearly enough attention these days for his contributions to the profession. The Wall Street Journal today profiles the legendary newspaper man, ”the only person to have served as editor of both the New York Daily News and the New York Post.” Hamill talks about his novels and makes the depressing confession that he only reads the New York tabloids every couple of days. From The Wall Street Journal:
It’s almost a disappointment to find Pete Hamill, legendary New York newspaper man, in this pristine, modern university office — not a single tabloid on his desk, not a trace of newsprint on his fingertips. As a writer in residence at New York University, the 72-year-old seems far removed from the rough-and-tumble world of big-city journalism. When he tells me that he reads the New York papers only every couple of days online from his second home in Cuernavaca, Mexico, my heart sinks a little further.
More after the jump …
And what about the fate of the American newspaper, with its falling circulation rates?
”When I was editing the Daily News,” Mr. Hamill recalls, ”I tried to get a push going to begin covering the new immigrants in a much more sustained way.” Doing so, he explained, ”was the only possibility for expanding readership.” He says he stole the idea from Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian immigrant who instituted the same policy when he took over the New York World in the 1880s. The editors said, ”but they don’t read English,” and he said, ”but their kids will.” Looking at journalism today, Mr. Hamill doesn’t think papers are going to vanish, but he doesn’t feel that the business has ”the same urgency to it.”
(image via sunydutchess)