Sundays and newspapers

Sunday morning breakfast was a highlight growing up. My father and I made pancakes (Aunt Jemima’s). After we all ate, my father would read us a story.

I still enjoy Sunday mornings, and usually Cherisse makes something special, like pancakes or waffles (no mixes though); or I might make blueberry muffins and scrambled eggs. Recently we resurrected an old favorite from the Silver Palette cookbook—Bismarcks (although our version has a lot less butter…see Recipe tab).

After breakfast we read the Sunday newspapers—the Providence Journal and, thanks to my mother, The New York Times.

Last night we watched a fascinating documentary about The New York Times, called Page One. I’ve loved newspapers all my life. In high school I worked on our school paper, The Issue. In a journalism class we took a trip to The New York Times offices. The most memorable part was seeing the massive printing presses—at the time they were in the basement of the old building on 43rd street. I have yet to see the Seven Wonders of the World, but I would stack those presses against the other marvels.

For two summers—before I started college, and after my freshman year—I had an internship on the Shoreline Times, in Guilford, CT. The staff was small, which gave me great access to the editors and reporters, and great opportunity. I started on obituaries and wedding announcements—rewriting releases to fit the paper’s style. Eventually they sent me off to cover town council meetings, and some “fluff” stories that are the heart and soul of small town papers. In those two years, many talented people took me under their collective wings, and I loved every minute of it.

Page One takes you inside The New York Times over the year WikiLeaks broke, with fantastic interviews of David Carr and other editors and reporters as they cover breaking stories…including the demise of newspapers across the country, faced with dwindling advertising and proliferating alternative media outlets. The movie is as thrilling as any action film, and rekindled my passion for newspapers. More than that, it left me grateful to the brilliant people who put together the paper of record. There have been plenty of tense moments in my career, when I’ve had to make major decisions quickly. But those stresses seem laughable in comparison to the decisions made daily by the reporters and editors at the Times—how to cover, where to place (or whether or not to publish) stories that will be read by millions, and could possibly change the course of history.

Toward the end of the documentary, Bill Keller, then executive editor, said “news organizations that deploy resources to really gather information are essential to a functioning democracy. It just doesn’t work if people don’t know.”

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