1. Saturday, November 8, 2008

    one of the surprising things you’ll notice 

    if you ever come into our newsroom is how quiet it is

    many people have headphones on, most talk in normal tones on the phone, and a lot of communicating is done on email or through instant messenger. so when you go downstairs to head out to lunch or to head home, as soon as you get close to the Spring Street lobby you can hear it: an intoxicating buzz from thrilled people who want proof of what they saw on tv and online.

    all week ive been showing you blurry pictures from my iphone of the masses of people lining up to get wednesdays newspaper. ive been doing it because every day we at the paper think its going to end soon. but its not ending. the more we reprint the more they buy. and every time we go through the lines to get to work its so energizing in the wake of seemingly never-ending layoffs. the economy continues to tank the real estate market continues to sink and the businesses small and large continue to deep six yet in the midst of it, this week, there was something to celebrate. something huge. its weird that our building happens to be the center of this weeklong celebration, but you take the good with the bad, next week someone will probably be protesting us for something just like they did a week ago.

    anyways today one of our columnists sandy banks wrote a beautiful piece about the people waiting in line for newspapers. i made me tear up a few times, so i would like to share some of it with you.

    For three 12-hour days, our lobby has been jammed, and sales will go on through this weekend. “We get a new batch, and a half-hour later they’re gone,” circulation chief Jack Klunder told me. “But we’ll just keep printing.”

    It caught us in the newsroom by surprise. More than 350,000 extra copies have been sold. “It’s bigger than anything I’ve ever seen,” Klunder said, as we watched, amazed at the line that just kept growing.

    For years, we’ve been hearing that print is dying and we’ve been pouring energy into online features aimed at extending our reach.

    But you can’t flip the pages of a cyber Times or post a framed blog on your wall.

    “I want a piece of history, in black and white, to hold in my hands,” Connie Jackson told me as I moved through the line Friday, talking with readers about why they had come.

    She bought eight copies of the paper and three replica plates Thursday, then came back Friday for more. She plans to frame a front page and mount it on her wall, and send copies to friends in other cities “who want something to remember this moment.”

    Indeed, people havent been standing in line for just one or two papers (still fifty cents), but they have been scooping up “posters”, replica steel plates of the front page, even buttons and tshirts from entrepreneurs on the sidewalk.

    “I’m getting everything you’ve got, as many as I can buy,” said Adrienne Foster, a college administrator who lives near downtown in Lafayette Square. “So everybody I know can be a part of this.”

    In line behind us, Margaret Kean was listening. I could tell she wanted a chance to talk. She’s white, and has two adult biracial sons whose father is black. She grew up in the 1960s in Detroit — “a mile from the riots” — and moved here with her sons “so they could avoid trouble.

    “This is my story, my kids’ struggle,” she told me, tears spilling from her eyes. “Now I know my belief that things are changing is right. I tell my sons, ‘You have no excuse not to succeed.’ . . . This is one of the most perfect moments in life.”

    Banks continues with Kean who shares with her something that ties together this modern world with what brought us here:

    She also saved a text message her son sent during the campaign. On Friday she showed it to me:

    “Rosa Parks sat, so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama is running so our children can FLY.”

    I read it aloud, and we both stood there crying.

    lots of emotion out there in that line. and if youre in LA and want to witness some of it we’re selling papers today till about 4pm, and tomorrow from 9am (i think) till 4pm. i dare you not to get caught up in it all.