Already Missing Newspapers

I know lots of people claim to be eager to see the death of paper news, that old dinosaur, delivered to your door each morning to be read with a good, healthy breakfast. They say that the internet can take the place of newspapers more efficiently and can cover a wider range of topics more effectively. They say we’re entering a new era of instant and accessible news that covers all the millions of topics we humans are interested in.

Bah!

Ridiculous!

We may have more information than we ever wanted about various entertainers and famous national figures, but down at the local level, the nitty-gritty where the rubber meets the road, and–more importantly for our purposes– where buildings are designed, built, and demolished, the coverage ranges from spotty to non-existent. This is true even of the newspapers that are still going–as Frank Ezelle has pointed out on his recent post “Weighing in at 2.6 oz–the Soon-to-be-defunct Clarion Ledger“, the Clarion Ledger has shrunk alarmingly over the past year or two and now consists of a few staff articles and lots of stories off the AP wire (I say “AP wire” as if I know what I’m talking about, but in fact, I have no idea how the AP works).

I was particularly impressed (and depressed) with the potential loss of historical documentation that newspapers have traditionally provided for their local communities when I spent a little time at the archives recently scrolling through the various Jackson papers looking for the obituary of Emmett Hull in October 1957. Well, the obituary, once I found it, was disappointingly brief for such an important Jackson architect, but the articles dealing with architecture I found just browsing through a few days of articles brought home to me the level of detail about local, daily matters newspapers used to cover. Yes, there are still locally focused papers like the Northside Sun or the Jackson Free Press but they tend to be weeklies and the stories tend still not to spend much time on architecture, except for the major building projects. Maybe this is because most common buildings going up are so bland and/or poorly constructed that the editors consider the whole topic too depressing to look at.  What I do know is that researchers in 30 years will have a harder time finding out about buildings built in the 1990s and 2000s than they will those from the 1950s and 1960s.

Here are a few examples of the kinds of meaty little nuggets I came across in October 1957:

Ok, seriously, could you buy a better headline than this? Smutty Buff? And maybe it was a slow news day, but can you imagine on any day a reporter showing up to a meeting of the successor to the State Building Commission, the Bureau of Buildings and reporting on the extended discussion over what brick color would be used in a new building? I really love the tiny insights we get into R.W. Naef's personality with his quotes. I wish I had a picture of Naef here to post with me because he looks like a kind and humane gentleman in the picture I've seen, and these quotes seem to fit that description.

Oct. 22, 1957, Jackson Daily News: Ok, seriously, could you buy a better headline than this? Smutty Buff? And maybe it was a slow news day, but can you imagine on any day a reporter of today showing up to a meeting of the successor to the State Building Commission, the Bureau of Buildings and reporting on the extended discussion over what brick color would be used in a new building? I really love the insights we get into R.W. Naef's personality with his quotes. I wish I had a picture of Naef here to post because in the picture I've seen he looks like a kind, intelligent, and humane gentleman, and these quotes seem to fit that description. And the discussion tells us lots about the various brick companies in the state and the personalities of the commission members too: "I don't see any kind of spirit in that brick."

Here's a lot of ink expended on a small Modern building on N. President downtown. I've always wondered about the history of this building, and now I know a lot more than I did. I also get a photograph that is a lot better in the original (the copy proves my point about microfilm printers being really horrible for quality photographic copying).

Jackson Daily News, Oct 10, 1957: Here's a lot of ink expended on a small Modern building on N. President downtown. I've always wondered about the history of this building, and now I know a lot more than I did. I also get a photograph that is a lot better in the original (the copy proves my point about microfilm printers being really horrible for quality photographic copying).

I think businesses used to use their buildings in their advertisements alot more than they do now, which of course, makes architectural historians happy, oh so happy. This building is on Meadowbrook, across from the old McRaes shopping center and it's now painted pink, which I enjoy. I guess I had always assumed it was a 1960s building, but this ad proves me wrong (for once).

I think businesses used to use their buildings in their advertisements alot more than they do now, which of course, makes architectural historians happy, oh so happy. This building is on Meadowbrook, across from the old McRaes shopping center and it's now painted pink, which I enjoy. I guess I had always assumed it was a 1960s building, but this ad proves me wrong (for once).

Try as you might, you’ll never find such everyday wonders of community news and documentation in our new online news business or even in the blogosphere, and while the news may be accessible on your laptop, iPhone, Blackberry, Kindle, etc, it’s still not accessible enough for me to read while sitting in my kitchen eating a healthy breakfast.



Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson, Recent Past

4 replies

  1. Oh wow, I wish that we could just sit and read articles like this all day. Well, some days; other days we should actually go out and look at the buildings, right?

    That’s funny about Naef. I got a completely different idea of him when I read in the Sovereignty files that he was a member of the Jackson Citizens’ Council, but then, so many people were …

    Like

    • Hmm, well that is a different side of him–I’ll have to look that up. Of course, pictures can be deceiving, and even public statements. On the other hand, I think there were a lot of people involved in the Citizens’ Councils, Sovereignty Commission, even KKK who regretted it later on and saw it for what it really was.

      There’s definitely a bit of a herd mentality in Mississippi, if I may say so, especially in the upper class, that causes them all to do whatever it is their neighbor is doing without giving much thought to the underlying issues.

      Like

  2. At first glance, I saw all ” t’s ” when I read “Smutty Buff”–now that would have be a real eye catching headline.

    As for the Citizens’ Councils, it’s important to remember that the 1960’s were a totally different world from the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s, and on up to today. For a businessman in that era, joining the Citizens’ Council might have been about economic survival. Straying outside the status quo was a risky thing to do at that time, enough so that judging the actions of people back then by today’s standards is a tricky thing to do.

    Frank.

    Like

  3. That’s a good point, Frank–well actually two good points, one a serious point about the Citizens Councils and another about the potential typos in the headline. :-)

    And in connection with the Citizens Council issue, I want to mention your blog about your father “Mississippi Civil Rights–One Man, One Story” (http://robertezelle.blogspot.com/) which I have found to be a very moving and honest point of view on the era that also gets into the complexities and confusion of the time and place.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: