I continue to look up all manner of stuff on Newspapers dot com, reveling in my subscription.
Yesterday I found a news story in which one of my former bosses pulled a body out of a river. I knew he was an EMT in a past life but he never spoke of that episode. Poor guy. (Both of them.)
Today I took up a long-forgotten errand of vainglory: I set out to figure out how many other newspapers my byline appeared in (that is, papers I didn’t directly work for), and where, and when.
An explainer for those who did not work as journalists: When you write a story, it might not just run in your own paper. It may get picked up by the Associated Press for regional or even national distribution, if it grabs the attention of someone in the local AP bureau. Or, if you work in a chain of newspapers, papers in the chain will usually look to their colleagues in other cities as a first source of copy to fill those random, oddly shaped holes on Page 20.
Newspapers dot com doesn’t carry the archives of every paper, so it doesn’t show me every place where “By Kurt Blumenau” ever showed up.
My three Boston Herald appearances from 2001 aren’t in there, nor is my November 2005 story about “The Weight” and the town of Nazareth, Pa., that appeared in the Los Angeles Times. (In both cases, I worked for smaller papers under the same ownership as these big-city outlets, and from time to time they would benevolently pluck tasty bits of copy supplied by the relative runts of their corporate litters.)
It also didn’t include my one appearance in the Stamford (Connecticut) Advocate, my parents’ and grandparents’ hometown paper, which I wrote about years ago at my other blog. (I subsequently located that story, which ran in March 2007.)
But what did I find that I didn’t already know about? Were there other cities whose burghers had the questionable benefit of seeing the Kurt Blumenau byline in their daily papers? Indeed, there were:
Odessa (Texas) American, Sept. 16, 2007, page 9A (the Books page!): These kindly Texans picked up a story I wrote about Rodale, the Lehigh Valley-based publishing company, picking up “A Path to Survival,” Al Gore’s sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth.”
The book, as far as I can recall, got no particular traction. Rodale has since been sold. I dunno how the Odessa American is doing. Well, I hope.
(Incidentally, I’m not linking to these b/c all the pages are behind the Newspapers dot com paywall. If anybody doubts that these stories really exist, let me know, and I’ll send you a PDF or something. I would profit not at all from making any of this up.)
Green Bay Press-Gazette, Green Bay, Wisconsin; Jan. 21, 2007, page 37, and Sept. 16, 2007, page D2: Look, Ma: Titletown! I owe the Rodale family a good vegan dinner or something, since they were apparently my ticket onto faraway news pages. The first of these two stories was about Rodale establishing a new book imprint for current-events books, while the second was the same one the Odessa paper picked up above.
Rodale, incidentally, was also my ticket into the Stamford Advocate; they picked up a story I wrote in March 2007 when Rodale purchased a fitness magazine based in Connecticut.
Munster (Indiana) Times, November 11, 2001, page 63: I have absolutely zero idea where Munster, Indiana, is. This was a story written in the long wake of the September 11 attacks, looking at the possibility of America issuing war bonds again. I can’t recall what triggered the story; I remember a million theories, ideas and rumors floating around in those days, and this must have been one of them.
The Rodale stories were written while I worked for the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call, which was part of the Tribune Co. chain and thus had decent launching power. But this one was written for the MetroWest Daily News of Framingham, Mass., a much smaller paper that was the sorta-flagship of a chain of mostly suburban weeklies. I wonder how this particular bottle got floated out on the wider ocean, and how it got picked up in Munster, Indiana.
(OK, I hit Wikipedia. I was quite surprised to learn that Munster is an outlying sprawl-town of Chicago, and The Times is the second-largest newspaper in the state, trailing only the one in Indianapolis. Go know.)
The Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, Fla., February 8, 2004, page 4F: On the Personal Technology page, next to a centerpiece story headlined “20 Years of the Mac,” the PBP picked up a story by yours truly about the growth of online shopping. (Headline: “Online Shopping Growing Rapidly.”)
The lede told the story of a woman in the Lehigh Valley who said she had found a house, a husband, a dog, and numerous gifts and articles of clothing online after getting tired of bricks and mortar. This was big in 2004, I guess.
I have no recollection of the woman and the story; looking back I wonder how we at the newspaper heard of her. It would be sort of droll to find out that identity theft, package theft, and/or the rapid decline of the U.S. Postal Service had driven her back to bricks and mortar.
The Paducah (Kentucky) Sun, December 11, 2003, page 6A: My sole known appearance in the Bluegrass State came from my coverage of Air Products and Chemicals, a Fortune 500 gases and chemicals company based in the Allentown suburbs. The paper in Paducah picked up a story about a legal dispute between Air Products and a former employee now competing against it. Not sure why this was of interest in Paducah; I know Air Products had a lot of facilities in a lot of different places, and maybe they had one there.
Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland; four appearances between 2005-2007: Among Tribune Co. papers, the Sun was especially generous in picking up other companies’ news items — or at least those from The Morning Call.
(In contrast, my name only appears once in a story from the flagship Chicago Tribune, and that in an end-of-story, also-contributed credit. Not sure whether this reflects a general disinterest on the Trib’s part in deigning to run its smaller colleagues’ stories, or whether it reflects the fact that the Trib in those days was still staffed well enough to fill its own holes and didn’t need copy from other papers.)
Anyhow, the Balty paper picked up three of my bylines and a fourth co-byline:
- A May 2007 story about the Allentown-based Sodexho USA Retail Brand Group working with Magic Johnson to develop concepts for a sports bar, a sandwich shop and a food court with Magic Johnson branding. No idea if this ever came to pass.
- A June 2006 story about a Tribune Co. stock buyback. As a business writer at The Morning Call, I was assigned to cover significant developments at the parent company. Generally, these were frustrating errands that combined prolonged word-by-word edits from senior editors with consistent no-comments from Trib’s spokesman. I kinda love that the Sun was smart enough not to make any of its own writers suffer through that process, but simply picked up the story from another Trib paper.
- An April 2006 profile of Robert S. “Steve” Miller, the last CEO of Bethlehem Steel. Miller had moved on to Delphi Corp. by then, and the story was both a review of his tenure at the Steel and a look at what he was up to in his new gig. I never met or interviewed Miller personally, as best I can recall, and my chief memory of him is that one or two of my Morning Call colleagues insisted on referring to him as “Stevie ‘Guitar’ Miller.“
- An April 2005 story, co-written with a colleague, about Bethlehem Steel closing its Homer Research Labs in Bethlehem — once the largest research facility in the steel industry. This story included an anecdote about window coverings that still sticks in my mind as one of the funnier things I ever heard in the news business, and an exemplar of corporate stupidity. Suffice to say I have been lucky never to work for a company that has specific policies regarding window coverings.
31 matches in Pennsylvania between 2002 and 2007, in papers including the Scranton Tribune, Hazleton Standard-Speaker, Chambersburg Public Opinion, Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, Lebanon Daily News, Carlisle Sentinel and Pottsville Republican: Whoops! I just assumed that the big mass of Kurt Blumenau bylines in Pennsylvania between 2002-2007 were all at my home paper, The Morning Call.
But now that I’ve filtered TMC out of the results, I see that my stories appeared in a bunch of other papers in the Keystone State during that time period. I won’t list ’em all but here are a few noteworthy examples:
- The Wilkes-Barre paper picked up a July 2004 profile of a Middle Eastern bakery and store (with the resonant-sounding dateline “HOKENDAUQUA, PA.”) I remember this story well because the shop owners posted it behind the counter, and I would see it every time I went in, which is one of the unpaid thrills of being a journalist. I also remember that the shop made superb fresh pita bread. It was in the township where I lived; I went there fairly frequently; and indeed, the place is one of the bigger things I miss when I think of the Lehigh Valley.
- C.F. Martin & Co., the seventh-generation (I think) guitar company famed for its high-quality instruments, is based in the Lehigh Valley. As a guitar nut, I always loved writing about them, and it didn’t hurt that company owner Chris Martin and the people who worked for him were nice, friendly people as well. Anyway, in February 2004, the company produced a bejeweled guitar as its millionth instrument, and the story and photo got pickup (no pun intended) in a number of Pennsy papers, including the Indiana Gazette, Carlisle Sentinel and Hazleton Standard-Speaker.
- A profile of a local brewing supply shop that had a huge display of beer bottles got some pickup in eastern and central PA in May 2005, for no reason I can identify. I usually hate my own writing but the lede here was kind of cute: “Jim Mosser has hundreds of bottles of beer on his wall, hundreds of bottles of beer, but he’s not passing any around.”
- More Rodale business in October 2006, this time a story about how the company “ghost-wrote” specialized magazines for brands such as Bloomingdale’s, Nestle and the Curves gym chain.
- The last of the pickups came in May 2007, when — for reasons not particularly clear — the Carlisle Sentinel picked up a profile of a Bethlehem clothing boutique. Sure, why not.
My byline stopped appearing in any paper in October 2007, when I ditched the news business. I am not sure the American public is any less informed as a result.