Letter to the Editor Re: Last Print Edition of Nation’s Cities Weekly, April 30

May 21, 2012

Talk about times changing: In 1978 when the National League of Cities launched Nation's Cities Weekly, Dar Webb was the publisher and I was an associate editor and writer, both of us working for Fred Jordan, who was at the time the Director of Communications. We had been publishing a monthly magazine, Nation's Cities, which I had joined the year before. When the shift from a monthly magazine to a weekly newspaper was announced, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Within a short time, I was very happy. The weekly got news and information out faster than the monthly, obviously, and it still had room and time for longer features. It seemed like the best of both worlds. And so it continued for the seven years I stayed at NLC. 

Now comes news of another big change, and once again I'm not sure how I feel about it. Partly that's because I've been away from NLC far longer than I was there. And partly that's because I hate to see publications printed on paper disappear from our world - even though the shift to digital publishing is already part of our lives; maybe I never thought it would happen to a publication that I worked on. 

Anyway, I remember when the Weekly started. Particularly I remember that when the first issue was to be printed, Dar went through every step of the process with the paper - riding herd on it through the typesetting (she had to find the hyphen key on the typesetter for the makeup crew) and layout, then keeping a close eye on the printing, and then riding with the bundles of printed papers to the mailing house. Now a days, that can all be done by computer, of course; and by the way, I'm sending this electronically. 

As the paper grew, those of us on the editorial side (Peter Nye, Allison Hallingby Dodge, and Laura Turner are the ones I remember ) would take turns supervising the paste up (this was before completely electronic paste up and layout) at whatever graphics shop was doing the job for us. And we continued to write: short news stories, news from Congress and the White House, NLC news, and features on almost anything of interest to city officials. 

We took some pride in the paper (and in our D.C. press credentials). And we took pride in our ability to publish nearly full news coverage of the Congress of Cities in the Weekly that came out on the Monday after. We'd write stories on site at the convention and send them back to Washington (first by Telefax and later by modem) so the managing editor could put together a paper. Speaking of editors, we had some good ones: Fred Jordan, first, then Harvey Kabaker and then Ray Dick. 

It was a grand time, with a grand crew. And just in case anybody remembers and wonders, Dar and I have been together ever since.

Clint Page
St. Petersburg, Fla.
capage@gte.net

See related story:  NLC Ushers in New Era of News Delivery