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Barry Schrader


I have been writing a column for the Chronicle most of the time since December 2007, with two breaks, one in 2016 and the other in 2017 when my wife Kay suffered a stroke. They are all archived here.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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A good history lesson at the movies

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist.............................January 19, 2018

For those reading this who were born later than the early 1960s the Pentagon Papers scandal may not be part of your memory. But many of us remember the leaked secret document in 1971 that exposed America’s po-litical leaders in a cover-up about the hopelessness of winning the war in Vietnam.

Last week I saw the movie, “The Post,” about the Washington Post and how it obtained and printed the “Classified Secret” report and it had a per-sonal recollection for me. The Post staffer who got the documents from an anonymous source – later discovered to be Daniel Ellsberg – was Ben Bagdikian. He later became dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

At the time I was a member of the same Society of Professional Journal-ists chapter in San Francisco as

When the presses rolled, the newspaper came out all folded and ready to tie into bundles, then load onto a truck for delivery to carriers and news racks. (Provided photo)
Ben. I heard him reminisce about those momentous days and realized what a tenacious journalist he was.

His revealing books, “The Media Monopoly,” and later, “The Information Machines,” exposed what was occurring on the national media scene. Big companies were buying up the profitable newspapers and consolidating smaller independent papers, creating a monopoly in major markets around the country. This discouraged the competitive nature of reporting and sometimes money influenced the newspaper’s editorial stands. Since his books have come out, this trend has continued, and today we can hardly find big cities with two major dailies – Chicago and New York being the ex-ceptions.

Getting back to The Post movie – some scenes were familiar to me. While at the San Bernardino (California) Sun, I was fortunate to work in a large metropolitan newsroom. On weekends I was in charge of remaking pages to localize editions for each of the major areas in which the Sun cir-culated. That meant I could go downstairs into the composing room and di-rect the page makeup, but not dare to ever step over the red line painted on the floor marking where nonunion news people were allowed, or the un-ion backshop would be shut down. So I couldn’t grab a column of lead type or headline and put it into the page forms myself, as I had done at weeklies in DeKalb County in earlier years. It was a thrill to see the backshop and hear the clatter of the Linotype machines, then the roar of the giant letter-press after the button was pushed to run the day’s first edition.

While editor of the Chronicle from 1969 through 1972, I enjoyed going to the production area at our building on Locust Street since the backstop was non-union. It was an afternoon paper back then, so I was still at work when the presses began to roll and the rumbling could be felt in the newsroom. It was always exciting to go back and pick up a freshly printed paper. One could smell the ink and even smudge the print while it was still drying.

Then the paper moved out to Barber Greene Road and was converted to offset printing. Although a more state-of-art, high-tech operation, I could still go to the pressroom and scan the front page for any major errors. It was hell to stop the presses, once started, to correct an error, so it seldom happened. It meant the paper would be late going out to the carriers and rural route drivers who wanted to deliver it before supper. Parents did not want their kids out late after dark, especially in winter, so we had better be on time. It was a different story when we became a morning paper and the presses ran overnight.

The only remaining Chronicle people from my era who I believe are still around are Jay Elliott, Rodney Jacobson, Waymon Espy, Ray McDermott, Bill Engstrom, Don Pinnick, Pat Duffy and David Hegberg.

Did I miss anyone?

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115