Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Telegram-Tribune gossip: memoir 22

Two months after the 1980 election, we gathered in the Telegram-Tribune newsroom near a radio turned up loud. We listened to Ronald Reagan's swearing-in as our 40th president then his inaugural address. This same day -- January 20, 1981 -- we also heard crowds cheer for the American hostages in Iran. After being held 444 days, they were finally freed.  
     I loved being around editors and reporters, especially during historic events such as this. Conversations sizzled, no topic too gruesome or mundane: politics, movies, shark attacks, British royalty. Oh yes, top of the news: In February Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer ("Shy Di") were getting married! In July! And it would be televised!
     My ancestors fought in the war of Independence against England, but never mind. I tracked royal news like a Tory. Blame this fascination on a Disney childhood of castles and princesses, and my Barbie doll in a white gown, the perfect bride for Ken. Ah, romance. Since weddings were still my beat, I would watch the extravaganza then write a column. Just five months away, it would be my best yet.
     Meanwhile, newspapers were transitioning to computers. Typewriters at the Telegram-Tribune moved to the corner of a desk or into a storeroom. Teletypes still chugged, phones still rang, but the newsroom quieted. Even chatter among reporters softened because now we sent one another messages. Silent, stealth-like, we appeared to be focused on a story, but actually someone was inviting everyone to a party that night and someone else needed a ride home. We arranged lunch dates or quarreled without making eye contact. Liz screamed at me in all caps, BITCH WHY DID YOU TELL PAUL I'M A LESBIAN???
     Lesson learned: gossip whispered to one person -- true or not -- could now reach an entire newsroom in seconds.

From BLUE SKIES: ONE AUTHOR'S JOURNEY, to be published this Fall.


Gloria said...

And that was just the beginning of the enormous technical change that has altered the life of every human on our planet. And now it all fits into an iPhone6.

Kristiana Gregory said...

Gloria, so true!!