Newsrooms too quiet


Rip Rense says if he ran a newspaper he'd bring back typewriters and paper just to make the environs seem less bizarro.

I had a tour of the San Francisco Chronicle not long ago, and the joint was creepy. Well, the people who work there are perfectly nice and hard-working and all that, but the environment, well. . .

You wanted to shout "HEY!"

To be fair, the Chron was not as silent as the carpeted confines of the L.A. Times, long famously christened "the Velvet Coffin" by Jim Bellows. You walk into the Times, and all you hear is the sickly clickety-clickety of computer keyboards. Maybe a little murmuring here and there, granted, but even that is muted by nylon pile. All the conversation seems to transpire in inter-office messages. You feel eyes taking secret looks at you over the tops of cubicles; you get the unnerving feeling that some of those clicketies might be about you. . .


Rense denies he's a romantic, but just thinks that when newspapers stopped being loud, raucous "collisions of humanity and idea" is when they began to shed readers. For more waxing on the old days, former LAT writer Paul Weeks recounts when he jumped from covering the 1960s War on Poverty to working for its commander, Sargent Shriver, father-in-law of the incoming governor.

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