The old Newark News

by William McTernan


I just read Muriel Smith's recollections of the Newark News. She mentions Vinny Slavin. I worked with Vinny for a number of years. I remember him so well. Him and Bill Gordon, Bill Doolittle and Doug Eldridge. Bill recently retired from the Star Ledger. Last I heard, Doug was working for the City of Newark. I'm still plying the trade at a paper called Newsday on Long Island.

I joined the Newark News about 1955. shortly after I was discharged from the Army. I started there taking ads over the phone at night. I was going to Seton Hall on the GI Bill during the day. I became a copy boy and, not long before I graduated from the Hall, a reporter in the suburban offices...Elizabeth, Montclair and Orange (I ran that bureau for a few years). Finally, I went cityside in the Market Street building. The street was a circus. There was Grant's Lunch to the left of us and the wonderful Novelty Bar and Grill across the street. The pay and the hours were just this side of serfdom but, God, it was a wonderful place to work. You really needed to drink to stay sane, though.

There were police radios squawking messages of mayhem non-stop in the city room and, in one corner, there was a long table lined with tin cans hovering over morse-code senders. That's how the News got its stories from far away a long time ago. Of course they hadn't been used for many years. Kind of museum pieces. There was a bank of clattering teletypewriters sending the news from the wire services and from distant Newark News bureaus. One of them was on a back porch in Sussex County. Our correspondent was a woman who would stop sending for an hour or so, so that she could cook dinner for her family. That's how the News became Jersey's paper of record.

Yes, the Ledger is still there, but it could never hold a candle to the News. I understand it's now surrounded by razor wire. Though it did stay in the city. The News, finally, was a victim of greed. The owners took the money and ran. The paper just withered away.


Email this memory to a friend.
Enter recipient's e-mail: