So much progress; so much repetition

I edited the Hibbing Daily Tribune during its last years as an afternoon newspaper in the early 2000s. We had been experimenting with ways to keep that format alive by running earlier deadlines so we could “be on the stands by lunch.” You know, so all the workers out on their breaks would pour quarters into the machines and people heading out to afternoon shift would have it before they left the house. I don’t know what that proved. We also had to put our content online earlier and so people just read it there and cancelled their subscriptions.

But this is to introduce the fact that on Sept. 11, 2001 shortly after 8 a.m. CST we were almost done with the paper. I was in final edits on the front and jump pages while many other pages were already plated, waiting for the truck to the printing plant.

First plane hits the World Trade Center, redo a quarter of the front. Second plane, tear down the front. Third plane hits the Pentagon, tear down the paper, throw out the old plates. We’d be late. Fourth plane, where? Pittsburgh? Near Pittsburgh? Some field somewhere. Double printing. Wire photo. Wire photo. Wire photo. The radio blaring. No windows. No TV. We’d see the TV later, and how.

I’ve written about 9/11 before. I still believe what I said last year. I still think this about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Say a prayer for those hurting today. All you can do.

Today the Hibbing Daily Tribune is a morning paper. People read their papers in the morning. By lunch those papers are full of McMuffin fingerprints and, anyway, people read even more online than before. We’re still in Afghanistan trying to fix the global mess that led to 9/11. The Onion has it best. So much progress. So much repetition. That’s history in a nutshell.

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