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Overview

A loving and laughter-filled trip back to a lost American time when the newspaper business was the happiest game in town.

In a warm, affectionate true-life tale, New York Times bestselling author Bob Greene (When We Get to Surf City, Duty, Once Upon a Town) travels back to a place where—when little more than a boy—he had the grand good luck to find himself surrounded by a brotherhood and sisterhood of wayward misfits who, on the mezzanine of a Midwestern building, put out a daily newspaper that didn't even know it had already started to die.

“In some American cities,” Greene writes, “famous journalists at mighty and world-renowned papers changed the course of history with their reporting.”  But at the Columbus Citizen-Journal, there was a willful rejection of grandeur—these were overworked reporters and snazzy sportswriters, nerve-frazzled editors and insult-spewing photographers, who found pure joy in the fact that, each morning, they awakened to realize: “I get to go down to the paper again.”

At least that is how it seemed in the eyes of the novice copyboy who saw romance in every grungy pastepot, a symphony in the song of every creaking typewriter.  With current-day developments in the American newspaper industry so grim and dreary, Late Edition is a Valentine to an era that was gleefully cocky and seemingly free from care, a wonderful story as bracing and welcome as the sound of a rolled-up paper thumping onto the front stoop just after dawn.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“There is something absolutely magical about Bob Greene’s voice.” —Jeffrey Zaslow, co-author of The Last Lecture

“Bob Greene is a virtuoso of the things that bring journalism alive.”—Tom Wolfe

Publishers Weekly

Greene, a veteran Chicago columnist and author (When We Get to Surf City), offers a glowing tribute to the glory days of America's newspapers and the simpler society they so aptly reflected. Currently a CNN contributor, he remembers his days as a copyboy and other apprentice positions at the Columbus Citizen-Journal and the Columbus Dispatch, two rival newspapers in Ohio's capital city, with the noisy reporters, prying editors, artful pressmen and artisans in the composing room. Greene laments the passing of a proud tradition from the peak year of 1984 with 63.3 million circulation sliding to 50.7 million per day, noting its generational gap of 63.7% of daily readers being 55 years or older contrasted with 33% of readers ages 25-37. Refreshing, respectful and comical, Greene's press-time recollections are meant to be read slowly and savored as the current chaotic computerized information business replaces newsprint, banner headlines and night owl editions. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In a touching homage to the daily newspaper, Greene weaves a wistful tapestry of "the sights, sounds, and smells" of his first job working at his hometown newspaper, the Columbus Citizen-Journal, from 1964 to 1968. He recalls the wonder of his first day as a copy boy and the subsequent years spent writing for the paper's sports and city desks. In his youth, argues Greene, when TV was just beginning to take hold, American families cherished their local newspapers as "the daily scrapbook of a city's life." People subscribed to the morning paper produced by one news organization and the evening edition of another in order to keep abreast of local business, school, civic, and sporting events. Greene also recollects when his "first love," the Citizen-Journal, printed its last edition in 1985, a time when cities could no longer sustain two competing newspapers. This nostalgic look at the importance of newspaper reporting in American life is valuable reading for anyone concerned about the possibility of having no newspapers to turn to for their local news.
—Donna Marie Smith

Kirkus Reviews
A valedictory hymn to the daily newspaper, composed by a lifelong journalist who began his career cranking carbon paper into newsroom typewriters and now blogs from his laptop. CNN contributor Greene, who has written for decades on American culture and politics (When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams, 2008, etc.)-launched his career in the 1960s as a teen copyboy for the now-defunct Columbus Citizen-Journal. The author begins his account in the fall of 2008 aboard a CNN presidential-campaign bus rolling through Columbus and passing the building where his career had begun. Nostalgia grips him and does not let go for the duration of the book. Though never mawkish, the text follows the emotional coming-of-age story of a misfit who found a roomful of other misfits at the Citizen-Journal. Greene describes his various duties at the paper-summer jobs as copyboy, sportswriter and reporter-while he was in high school and college. He recalls the ecstasy of seeing his words in print for the first time-and, later, his first byline and his first page-one story. He cannot explain some of his early impulses-stepping out on the golf course to walk alongside Arnold Palmer during a tournament (Arnie chatted amiably, gave him a good story), writing and submitting copy without authorization-but it's his newshound instincts that he is trying to comprehend. Greene most eloquently describes the atmosphere at the Citizen-Journal-the sounds of clacking typewriters and clattering Linotype machines, the clutter and the coffee-and the colorful personalities of his colleagues. He writes of celebrities who drifted through Columbus-Ozzie and Harriet,Nelson Rockefeller-and muses about the incomprehensibility that anything would ever change. A fervent, entertaining journey back to a time when print media still mattered.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312375300
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/7/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Award-winning journalist Bob Greene is a CNN contributor and a New York Times bestselling author whose books include When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams; And You Know You Should Be Glad: A True Story of Lifelong

Friendship; Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen; Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War; Hang Time: Days and Dreams with Michael Jordan; Be True to Your School; and, with his sister, D.G. Fulford, To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come.

 

As a magazine writer he has been lead columnist for Life and Esquire; as a broadcast journalist he has served as contributing correspondent for ABC News Nightline.  For thirty-one years he wrote a syndicated newspaper column based in Chicago, first for the Sun-Times and later for the Tribune.  His essays and reporting have been featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times.

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Read an Excerpt

1

I hadn’t been expecting to see the place.

We were rolling through the country in a vehicle that was something out of an old-time science-fiction writer’s most vivid futuristic dreams.

This was during the autumn in which Barack Obama was campaigning for president—the campaign which would culminate, that November, with his history-changing victory.

"We’ll be at the hotel in a few minutes," Dale Fountain called back to me.

He was the driver of this vehicle—it was called the CNN Election Express, and from the outside it looked like a massive bus. Inside, though, it was a live television studio on wheels—control consoles, editing suite, satellite-uplink hardware, ten high-definition monitors. From the bus, even as it was speeding down a highway, we could transmit pictures and sound that would instantly be seen on television screens around the world. I was writing columns about the presidential campaign every day for CNN’s political site on the Internet; we could stop in a town, report on a speech or a rally, interview some potential voters, snap their photographs . . .

And then, even as the bus was on its way, I could write the column, send it and the pictures skyward, and within minutes, before we had reached the next stop, it would be available for reading by an audience in every corner of the globe.

We had been in many places during the course of the long campaign—in the days just before arriving in this town, we had reported from Washington, D.C., from Maryland, from Pennsylvania, from West Virginia, from Mississippi, from Arkansas, from Kentucky. In a new-media age, the bus was an electronic marvel—it provided an almost incomprehensibly advanced digital delivery system for every kind of storytelling imaginable.

So I was writing away in the middle section of the bus—I was a sixty-one-year-old man enthralled by all the ways this three-million-dollar vehicle suddenly enabled a person to communicate his reporting to viewers and readers in the blink of an eye—and I looked up to see that the town into which we were heading was the capital city of Ohio. Columbus.

I stopped typing, and looked out the window.

On a downtown street—the address was 34 South Third Street—there was an old, stone-fronted building.

I had been there before, many times.

There once had been a certain room on the mezzanine.

Inside the bus, transmission-equipment lights blinked silently on and off.

I looked toward the building and tried to recall a sound from long ago.

Excerpted from Late Edition by Bob Greene.

Copyright © 2009 by John Deadline Enterprises, Inc.

Published in July 2009 by St. Martin’s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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