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August 28, 1964 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1964-08-28

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PAGE TEN

THE 'MICHIGAN DAILY

PAGE .^ .. ' :. . a... saa.sva TE TH MIC IGA DaILYJ

Detroit' s

Top Newspaper

Run by Student 'Eggheads'

By KENNETH WINTER
Managing Editor
Special To The Daily
DETROIT-The city room of
the Motor City's top newspaper
looks 'fairly conventional. Report-
ers and editors of all ages move
about with the casual dynamism
that marks any newspaper office.
But venture back into the exec-
utive offices and you'll find con-
vention turned upside down. For;
behind the executive desks - in-
stead of well-padded, middle-aged
businessmen-are college students.
The paper calls itself the De-
troit Daily Press. The students are
college journalists, most of them
from Wayne State University, who
established the Press to fill the
gap left July 12 when the two De-
troit papers were shut down by
strikes.
Free Press Reporters"
The Press currently employs
most of the Detroit Free Press'
reportorial staff, who put out the
20-page daily issues; and uses the
Detroit News' distribution agency
to sell some 225,000 papers a day.
How the Press was born is a
story even more unlikely than the
paper itself. Editor - Publisher
Michael Dworkin, a WSU gradu-
ate student who will come to Ann
Arbor as a teaching fellow in the
economics department in January,
still betrays some amazement as
he traces the Press' brief history.
On Tuesday July 13 one day'
after a strike had halted opera-
tions at the News and Free Press,
Dworkin dropped in at the of-
fices of the Daily Collegian, the
Wayne student paper he once edit-
ed. Talk at the Collegian was of
the strike.
Brain-storming at Collegian
"The Collegian's secretary had
been talking with someone at the
Free Press, who said the strike
probably would last two or three
months," Dworkin said. So Col-
legian staffers began talking of
putting more world news in the
paper to raise its potential reader-
ship.
"I laughed and said it's absurd
to do that, since the Collegian
comes out only once a week in
the summer. We sat there in sil-
ence a minute. Then I said, 'Why'
don't we put out a paper of our
own'?" Dworkin recalled., -
Still doing speculations of the
most tentative sort, the journalists
kicked around the problems and
possibilities of such an undertak-
ing. Among the ideas adopted was
one Dworkin calls "our fantastic
socialist scheme." It would have
divided the then-nonexistent pa-

per's staff into several classes --!
such as administrative, editorialt
and secretarial-and "each class
would get an equal share of thei
profits."
Capitalism Wins Out1
(Capitalism, however, eventually
won out. Explained Dworkin: "No-,
body wanted to work under our
plan." The Press now pays wages.)l
On the theory that "if the
strike lasted one week, it would
surely last much longer," the stu-
dents decided to wait a week be-
fore doing anything.t
But the next day-Wednesday-
there was one dissenter from the
wait-and-see decision: Gary D.
Stern, the Collegian's energetic ad-1
vertising manager. He said "Let's
go ahead," but Dworkin, then tied
up teaching an economics course
and writing a master's thesis, still
insisted on waiting a week.-
'Call Some Printers'l
Stern would have none of it.
When Dworkin arrived at the Col-1
legian Thursday, Stern confront-
ed him with a fait' accompli:_
"You'd better start calling some1
printers. I've already called some
advertisers and they're willing tol
advertise."
"So," Dworkin said, "I started
calling some printers. But I could
feel myself sinking into something
I wasn't sure I wanted to be in."
On Friday, three "very import-
ant events" took place, Dworkin;
said:
-The News' distributor offered
to deliver "what was then only a
figment of four students' imag-
inations." The deal was that thisE
distributor would simply buy all;
of our papers, then resell them to
'the public through channels es-,
tablished for the News. This prom-
ised to solve the sales problem;
for the yet unborn publication.
--Someone called a local broad-
caster and announced the paper's;
coming birth. By that night all
Detroit television stations had car-
ried the announcement.
-Sam Nathanson, publisher of
several advertising papers in west-
ern Detroit, was also trying to get
a paper going. He offered Stern
$1000 a week to sell ads for his
paper.
Chaos in Community
"When this happened, we felt
we were in. We figured if Nathan-
son was willing to pay $1000 a
week, we must be worth 20 times
that. And we realized we created
So somewhere, with no one
quite noticing it, the project pass-
ed the point of no return.
Secure Wire Services
A Reuters and a Dow-Jones wire
were secured to provide some non-

local news; the Press' inability
to secure service from the two ma-,
jor American wire services drove'
its reporters to listening to ra-
dio news in order to get informa-
tion for stories.
On Saturday, veteran journalist
Frank P. Gill, the Collegian's ad-
visor, became fully involved in the
project.
"When we told him the idea on
Wednesday, he said we were crazy.
By Thursday, he had become a
devil's advocate. By Friday he was
calling people, and by Saturday he
was hiring them," Dworkin said.
Gill is now the Press' executive'
editor, handling most of the news-
page administration.
Operating on Promises
Meanwhile Stern - operating
more on promises than capital-
rented an office and furniture for
it. And Dworkin met with a cor-
poration lawyer, who also agreed
to demand a fee only if the ven-
ture succeeded, to take steps to-
ward establishing the Press as a
corporation-"so that no one coukV
touch us legally."
By Monday morning, the Press
had one attorney in Lansing and
another at Detroit's City-County
Bldg. registering it as a corpora-
tion.
Wednesday morning-one week
after the idea was first broughtf
up and four days after the go-
ahead decision-the first editionI
was on the streets.
Uphill Road
Since then, the road has been4
all uphill for the Press. Advertis-
ers, reluctant to sign contracts with
a publication whose avowed in-
tention is to fold when the strike
ends, have slowly concluded that
the strike and the Press may be
around for a while. If the Press'
two print shops can do it, the
Press may go to two sections for
a 44-page Sunday edition. And
Dworkin asserts that "we could be
selling 400,000 papers if we could
produce them."'
The Press now has four Wash-
ington correspondents - two of
them moonlighting reporters on
D.C. papers-and contacts on
newspapers in several other cities.
The only direct role students
take in the publication of the
paper is to write and produce the,
editorial page. For the purpose
Dworkin invited in two top col-'
lege editors of recent vintage, and
the three combine to put out
some of the most liberal editor-
ials Detroit has seen in a major'
daily newspaper.
The Press' path to the status
of a going concern hasn't, how-
ever, been free of obstacles. Of

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two of them, Dworkin speaks an-
grily.
The first was the Press' ex-
pected difficulty in obtainiig wire
services. Dworkin said they didn't
even try the Associated Press, as-
suming they would be unable to
get its service. But they did try
United Press Internatioial.
"They -said the only way they
can service us is under a five-
year contract-with the last year
paid in advance, which comes to
about $125,000," Dworkin said.
Anti-Trust Violation?
So Dworkin returned to his'
economic books, and for a while
they convinced him the anti-trust
laws provided sufficient foundation
for a lawsuit. "We finally decided
to let it ride, though," he contin-
ued.
However, the Press received a
letter - "unsolicited" - from Rep.
Emanuel Celler (D-NY), whose
anti-trust subcommittee of the
House Judiciary Committee is cur-
rpntly probing the wire services.
Celler asked if the Press had had
any troubles; he'll receive a vivid
description of them.
The second obstacle has been
Sam Nathanson, whose interim pa-
per is now called the Detroit
Emergency Press. "What I mind
about Nathanson isn't that he's
putting out a paper; Detroit could
use three or four papers. It's the
way he's doing it."
Dworkin accused Nathanson bd
trying to cash in, not only on the

strike, but on the Press' success.
He said Nathanson originally call-
ed his publication "the Detroit
Daily Emergency Press," dropping
the "Daily" when threatened with
legal action, and answered his
phone "Detroit Daily Press" -
which also took a legal threat to
stop.
Emergency Measures
To these charges Nathanson re-
plies that the strike has created
an emergency situation, and that
therefore emergency measures for
gathering news are justified - no
matter what "purists" say.
Dworkin returns with a snipe of
his own: "The fact that most dis-
turbs Nathanson is that the Press
was organized by college students
-intellectuals,' no less!"
For the moment, the "intellec-
tuals" are working from day to
day, keeping a close eye on the
newspaper strike and wishing ill-
fortune on the negotiators who
seek to settle' it. At present, Dwor-
kin declares, the Press is an in-
terim paper which will fold im-
mediately when the regular papers
return.
But there is one possibility which
might save the Press. T fe Free
Press. which had been growing
rapidly in the year or so before
the strike, has been hit very hard
by the walkout. Rumors now cir-
culating have it that the Free
Press may die.
If it does, Dworkin declares,
"we're not going to let Detroit
become a one-paper town."

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