A touch off topic:

I spent my weekend watching some old ‘Lou Grant’ reruns on Fancast and immediately began to pine for the good ‘ol days of newspapering, when you had an eccentric publisher who didn’t worry about the bottom line affecting good journalism. Ironically, the LA Tribune newsroom was not too far away from reality because,even though the paper employed hundreds, there were four or five people that actually did any work.

But I began to wonder about another great newspaper film…Deadline U.S.A. For those unenlightened with it, it’s a 1952 film about a New York newspaper that is closing, but doesn’t go away quietly. Humphrey Bogart plays the paper’s editor, a hard-working, hard-drinking sonofabitch who continues to uphold the the institution of journalism as the paper fold around him. Bogart utters some great lines, such as telling a new hire that newspapering “isn’t the oldest profession, but it’s the best!” and that great answer to the mob boss … who threatens Bogart and the paper over the phone … when he asks what’s that sound behind him; “It’s the press, baby. The press. And there’s nothing you can do about it!” It’s undoubtedly the best newspaper movie ever, and should be required viewing for all j-school students.

Now, my problem is that my bootlegged copy (taped from an airing many, many years ago on AMC) disappeared with a colleague who was laid off recently. So I’m going through withdrawals because the movie, unfortunately, is not available anywhere, in any format.

Ideally, I think it would be great if some institution devoted to preserving great journalism … like API, Poynter or the Newseum … got the rights to the film and produced DVDs for sale, a portion of which would benefit the organization. I know there are many more inkies out there besides me that would pay good money for a copy.

But in the meantime, here’s how you can help. Go to the Turner Classic Movies web sitefor Deadline U.S.A. and click on “suggest this move” tab at the right. I figure if we can get enough folks lobbying for the film, they’ll run it and we all can set our DVRs (or, in my case, VCR … OK, I’m not as techie as I’d like folks to think) and satisfy our cravings.

Together, we can bring back this great, great movie for another chance to capture it. Remember, “A profession is a performance for public good. That’s why newspaper work is a profession.” Can it get ANY better than that?

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