I recently went to the Pacific Northwest for my four-year reunion with friends from college. While in Seattle, we saw the Broadway tour of Newsies. Now, for those who don’t know what the show is about, it is about the New York City newsies strike of 1899. I had not seen the production nor movie so when one of the characters exclaimed that not only had their story been published on the front page, it was above the fold, I laughed my head off to the embarrassment of my friends.
Working at the Register has given me an insider’s perspective on how a newspaper business works, as well as some inside jokes. Like how awesome it to have a story above the fold on the front page. One thing I didn’t know was the history of the newsboys who sold newspapers on street corners. The newsies were often the first people to be affected by rises in newspaper costs, and because of this there were several strikes. The NYC newsies strike was in 1899, there was a strike in Butte, Montana in 1914, and even one in Louisville, Kentucky in the 1920’s.
Although the strikes were because of the rising costs of papers, the newsies strikes also brought attention to the maltreatment of orphans and the conditions of child labor in the cities. Because of these brave children and their outspoken determination, society was changed for the better.
The newspaper business has come a long way since the days of typesetting and darkrooms, but I hope it continues to serve as an outlet to voice concerns and important news. I hope we can all be newsies in some way or another. Either by sharing news or being a voice in the community, we can all take a hint from the newsies and make a change in our world.