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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"The way station, the midwife" for reporters closes

There's a great little piece in the New York Observer about the closing of The New York Times Recording Room.

I'm surprised it hadn't already perished as e-mail and cell phones became tools nearly as important a pen and notebook. Still, there's a lot of history there and I sure hope someone at the NYT thinks to preserve for posterity.
Years ago, the Recording Room was, as Gay Talese put it to Off the Record, the “way station, the midwife” for foreign, national and even New York-based reporters who needed to phone in copy in a pinch. Without the aid of e-mail—let alone a laptop—the ability to dictate copy to a Recording Room operator was a reporter’s safety net, at a time when blowing deadlines and missing the morning paper carried a greater cost than it does in today’s electronic age.
Mr. Talese said he used the Recording Room for civil rights reporting in Alabama; Mr. (Arthur) Gelb said he used it to dictate reviews from Off Broadway plays from a phone booth on Second Avenue; and Mr. (Max) Frankel said he used the paper’s London Recording Room (which no longer exists) for his dispatches from Moscow. Mr. Frankel said he would take care to slur some of his sentences so as to foil the Soviet censor on the line.

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