I Miss The Newspaper Fillers
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.