Help for young people trying to navigate a print newspaper, and more ‘Wait Wait…’ fun

From the “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” show’s newspaper-related “Bluff the Listener” game this weekend:

Host Peter Sagal to the contestant:
You’ve probably heard that newspapers are dying; that’s because they are – it’s really sad. However, this week we heard about one newspaper that is fighting back – that is not going gently into that good night.wait Guess the true story of a newspaper fighting back and you’ll win scorekeeper emeritus and newspaper reader Carl Kasell’s voice on your voicemail.

Paula Poundstone’s entry
Morale at many newspaper offices has been low since the digital revolution has put an iceberg-sized hole in the hull of their business model. But the writers and staff at the New York Times arrived at work today to a spirit-lifting extravaganza: excerpts of the Broadway hit show “Newsies,” right on the front steps of their iconic building.

“The characteristic pluck and grit that has long been the hallmark of newspaper folk may well sustain the industry until our financial houses can be put in order,” claims publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. “And that’s what this is all about – a celebration of our do-or-die spirit.”

Many of the staff waiting to enter the building didn’t seem view it that way. Most waited silently, staring at their smartphones, while grown men in knickers leaped, tapped and belted out songs in front of them.

“‘Newsies’ is about the underaged abused workers who struck against the newspaper companies,” said a bewildered David Brooks, following a group of employees seeking an alternative entrance. “This industry is doomed!” …

Adam Felber’s [correct] entry
Have you ever been nostalgic for the days when our newsrooms were filled with the sound of typewriters – dozens of them, clacking busily away as desperate copywriters on deadline scurried to churn out their scoops? Well, this week some journalists are starting to become nostalgic for the days after that noise went away, because for staffers at Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London, it’s back. Not the typewriters, just the sound.

As part of an experiment to make journalists feel more productive and connected, a large speaker has been placed on a tall stand in the middle of the floor, for the express purpose of loudly piping in the clattering sounds of the busy newsrooms of yesterday.

A Times competitor, the Independent, points out that most staffers won’t get that nostalgic thrill because it’s been 30 years since newspapers did away with typewriters – and 20 years since one of Murdoch’s other holdings, Fox News, did away with news. And although The Times’ Lucia Adams calls it a “playful idea,” a helpful Twitter response suggests: “Why don’t they just pump in the noise of screaming tortured souls in hell?”

Roy Blount Jr.’s entry
Young people are going back to vinyl for music, so why not to paper for news?

So the San Francisco Chronicle has set up a special IT line for people who, having grown up online, want to learn how to operate a paper newspaper.

Odie Milo, who oversees the new help line, says the most frequently asked question is: “Where do I click to get, like, audio and video?”

We tell them it’s not really about clicking at all. Then, when they sort of absorb that, we talk them through the process of turning actual physical pages. They love it when we give them tips like: When you have trouble separating two pages, try licking your fingers.

Other questions Odie Milo has fielded are: “It’s so big! Why does it have to be so big?” And: “Mine won’t update; it’s stuck on last Wednesday.”

The contestant picked Feldman’s typewriter story and won Kasell’s voicemail message.

* Listen to “Bluff the Listener” for August 30 (npr.org)
* Typewriter sounds are added to the London Times newsroom (jimromenesko.com)

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