Thursday, January 04, 2007

Unions, Strikes, and Old Media

I was rummaging around in the attic of my memory this morning. Seems that there was a strike against the Minneapolis Star and Tribune (then two newspapers) when I was in 7th grade (about 1980). I remember that the truck drivers honored the picket lines, so if you wanted a paper (I wanted the comics and Ann Landers), you had to go to Portland Avenue in Minneapolis and buy one from the newspaper headquarters. If Dad came home with a newspaper one day, it was rather like Bob Cratchit surprising his Victorian family with a large orange. Each of us would delight in the small section we were about to receive.

The strike also had an effect on my junior high classmates. Rob M. was a delivery boy who made some outrageous sum like $20 per week. In the beginning of the strike, they paid him despite the fact that there were no afternoon papers to deliver. Then he had to suffer without the extra income. One of our social studies assignments was to study current events. Every so often we would partner up with a couple classmates and deliver news, weather, sports, and entertainment to the rest of the class. For example, I covered the death of John Lennon in one of my assignments. One of my classmates, Sara S., was scheduled to deliver a news report during the strike. She got a ride to Downtown Minneapolis, took photos and interviewed the reporters on the picket line. I later challenged her for blatant brown-nosing and she 'fessed up.

There was a fictional strike at the LA Tribune on television's Lou Grant. I remember that Charlie Hume (the late Mason Adams of Smuckers voice-over fame) was assigned to physically paste the articles and pictures into their proper columns.

Anyway, I was just wondering what happens if there is a newspaper strike in the age of the Internet? Would we care? Would they be even more profitable, not paying union salaries and the cost of printing/distribution?

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