Pete Hamill Talks Deadlines at Center for Communications Panel: Pages from the Past

Michael Hurtig | October 4th, 2011

On Monday, American journalist and author Pete Hamill joined New York Post theatre columnist Michael Riedel at the Center for Communications Panel, Pages from the Past. Hamill is best known for his international reporting and his best-selling memoir, A Drinking Life.

The panel was a part of a screening event, which featured the films Deadline- U.S.A. (1952) and The Paper (1994). Each film recalled a journalist’s experience at a newspaper at the height of the print era.

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Following, Hamill reminisced about the “old way of doing things,” the newspaper printing process before the rise of digital media. The social atmosphere, said Hamill, is an essential part of newspaper production. Approaching the 5 o’clock deadline was “the biggest adrenaline rush of all time” which included the “furious clacking of typewriters” and celebratory drinks following the day’s successes.

According to Hamill, the Internet takes away the “climax” of a newspaper’s front page.  Online, the newspaper is capable of moving onto something new in the “next thirty seconds” after publishing a big story. The ability to constantly inform the public leaves no room for finality, or achievement.

“[The publishing industry] is prematurely surrendering, says Hamill, “there’s no reason why they can’t coexist with the internet like stick shift and automatic did for years.”