Monday, December 01, 2008

Wyoming free daily turns 30

When the Jackson Hole Daily began Dec. 1, 1978, it was probably the smallest daily newspaper around in at least two ways.

The initial press run was just 2,000 copies for a winter resort that was essentially closed until the ski season started later in December. And the actual size of the paper was unique too -- not a tabloid, but half the dimensions of a tabloid, what printers call a "quarter fold."

In a story about the paper's anniversary, writer Angus M. Thuermer Jr. notes that the pressman waited all night for the small newsroom to finish the first edition. He fell asleep in the newspaper's conference room.

The press finally started at around 5 or 6 in the morning -- even though the idea was to print it the night before. The delivery person couldn't wait any longer and left for another job, which meant the editor and a sleepy salesman had to distribute the first issue on their own.

Thuermer's article continues:
    [Then-editor Paul] Bruun emphasized that 30 years ago there was no ESPN, no USA Today, no CNN. Fax machines were rare and the Internet was a long way off.

    “There was none of that,” Bruun said.

    The product, however, stirred great interest. The Daily, perhaps the world’s smallest, had it all.

    “How delighted people were,” Bruun said, “at the crossword puzzle, the Peanuts cartoon, the little synopsis of stock-market quotations, the gold prices. That was fun.”

    Today the Daily thrives under the leadership of Managing Editor Dava Zucker and a staff of copy editors and layout artists. Four-color photography and advertising are standard, and the publication covers everything from world and national affairs to business, local entertainment, opinions, sports, weather and art in a 15-inch-tall tabloid format.
At the time there were only two other free dailies -- The Colorado Daily in Boulder, born in 1971, and the Aspen Daily News, which began five months before Jackson Hole.