Paul  Weyrich

When I was a reporter for the MILWAUKEE SENTINEL (now the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) we had four deadlines. The first was 6:00 PM. The papers printed after that deadline were trucked to places such as Superior and Ashland, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Since I covered City Hall, I often had a difficult time writing stories about what happened at a City Council meeting which had concluded only an hour earlier. Our last deadline was midnight. Most often no change was made after the final deadline but if a late-breaking story made it to the newsroom by 11:30 PM or so it could be quickly written and inserted in lieu of another article. I saw this happen only twice while I was at the paper. Most often I wrote for the 10:00 PM deadline, as did most of the reporters. Life was laid back. Even though our City Editor, Bob Wills, had the reputation as the toughest boss in town, I led a comparatively relaxed life forty-three years ago.

Then came an opportunity in television. The News Director at WISN-TV, then the CBS affiliate, Bob Herzog, had read a couple of the stories I had broken from City Hall. Someone told him I had been in radio. He called and asked if I would do an audition. WISN was beginning a morning news/talk half hour and going from 15 minutes to a half hour with other WISN newscasts. I got the job. So I had three deadlines.

The first was my newscast in the morning, which usually consisted of leftover news and clips from the night before and a few short items rewritten from the Sentinel's Midnight Edition. Then we had our 6:00 PM. deadline for the newscast which followed Walter Cronkite, who also was switching from 15 minutes to a half hour. And then the 10:00 PM newscast. Most of us who worked in the daytime were long gone before the deadline of 9:30 PM. One lonely soul was left in the newsroom to watch for late-breaking stories or to fix the film if it broke. Again, no pressure. On weekends we had only the 10:00 PM news. I was the anchorman but I also wrote the newscast. We billed it has a half hour newscast but in reality it was 15 minutes of news. There were five minutes of commercials, a five-minute Sportscast and a five-minute weather segment. Basically I had all day to prepare a single 15 minutes of news-hardly a difficult deadline.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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