Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sing a song of press-titution?

With layoffs, buyouts and closings, these days it seems fewer newspapermen each month are "meeting interesting people..." But a friend pointed me to this 2006 video after I posted my blog item (and a flutter of tweets) about Pete Seeger's birthday concert. I haven't heard that this song fit into the program. It would need a pretty serious update, since it dates back to the days of flagpole sitters. I was writing for my school newspaper the first time I heard the song, and found a copy in the old People's Songbook, related to the still-publishing Sing Out!, the folksong magazine. I should renew my subscription and see if anyone has set Phil Meyer's The Vanishing Newspaper to music yet...

Pete doesn't mention it on the video, but the later verses of Vern Partlow's song make it clear it has roots in the early -- and better -- days of the Newspaper Guild union. Now that Pete has taught you the tune, everybody sing...:
Oh, publishers are such interesting people!
Their policy's an acrobatic thing.
They shout they represent the common people.
It's funny Wall Street never has complained.
But publishers have worries, for publishers must go
To working folks for readers, and big shots for their dough.
Oh, publishers are such interesting people!
It could be press-titution, I don't know.

Ting-a-ling-a-ling, advertising.
Ting-a-ling-a-ling, circulation.
Get that payoff, keep those readers;
What a headache, what a mess.
Yes, publishers are such interesting people!
Let's give three cheers for freedom of the press.

Oh, newspapermen are such interesting people!
They used to work like hell just for romance,
But finally, the movies notwithstanding,
They all got tired of patches on their pants.
They organized a union, and got a living wage.
They joined progressive actors upon a living stage.
Now newspapermen meet such interesting people,
Who know they've got a people's fight to wage.

[big rousing chorus now...]

Ting-a-ling-a-ling, Newspaper Guild,
We got a free new world to build;
Meet the people, that's a thrill,
All together fits the bill.
Oh a newspaperman meets such interesting people!
It's wonderful to represent the Guild.
Lyrics from the Digital Tradition database at

Just a coincidence... Here's the latest on the Guild negotiations at The Boston Globe.

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