Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Miss The Newspaper Fillers

In days of old, when knights were bold
And newspapers were still typeset,
Someone would write ‘em a little item,
And those tidbits you would get.

I was always a devotee of those little fillers the newspapers used to run at the bottom of the columns in the pre-computer days when they could not stretch or squeeze the type. You would get things like, “Swaziland imported 10,000 pounds of bananas in 2005,” or “Australia’s national anthem can only be changed by an act of its aboriginal congress.”

Some days, I learned more about the world around me from these little fillers than I did from the news pages. Where else would you learn, let’s say, that the U.S. South Pacific islands cover an area three times the 48 states, but together would cover only New Jersey?

Sure, Dwight Eisenhower’s heart attack was news, but so was the fact that some country’s capital had moved three times between 1900 and 1910. Or that cows are still legal currency in 15 countries.

Who researched and wrote these? Was there more than one company who provided them to the newspapers? What happened to the people who did this work when computers made up the pages and these little fillers were no longer needed? Perhaps that could make up one final filler.

8 Comments:

Anonymous ColdJoshVail said...

Yep, I remember those small fillers. On some days they were more interersting than the news!

July 06, 2007 6:10 AM  
Blogger mjr said...

When I was at a newspaper years ago, we had a column with little bits of local news that didn't fit anywhere else. One day it was a little short, so I threw in a line that I found in some obscure reference book. I still remember it: "Pennsylvania is the nation's leading producer of potato chips." After that, I made sure to add a Keystone State factoid every issue, and it became a regular feature -- and it's still running!

July 07, 2007 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I WISH I COULD FIND NEWSPAPER FILLERS I ALWAYS LOOK FOR THEM AND SOFAR I'VE HAD NO LUCK! WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM ? IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU COULD LEARN SO MUCH JUST FORM 1 INCH NEWSPAPER COMMENTS!

October 03, 2008 10:21 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

And they were so varied! You just never knew what the next one would have in it.

October 04, 2008 1:36 AM  
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