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Brevities, miscellaneous and sundry tid-bits
October 25, 2011 - Bill Ackerbauer
Continuing my perusal of local newspapers from 100 years ago, I see the equivalent then of our modern "Area News in Brief" was a column quaintly labeled "Brevities." It sounds to me more like a description of undergarments than news, but apparently back in those days few events were "unmentionable" in the pages of the Morning Herald and the Gloversville Leader. This column was used as a catch-all for short dispatches, encompassing items we would publish today under Area News in Brief and elsewhere — the Tri-County Blotter (crime and accidents) or the Celebrations page (weddings, births, etc.).
Another big difference between the papers of 1911 and those of today: Back then, it was much harder to distinguish between news, editorial commentary and paid advertisements. These items from the Herald list the newspaper's daily circulation, greet the reader — "Good Morning?" — and name the slate of GOP candidates for county offices in the upcoming elections. The sets of horizontal double rules were considered enough to separate one item from another.
My last offering for today is a clip about mysterious murder that happened just in time for Halloween that fall. On the day this was published (Oct. 24, 1911), the local police were "without a clue" — a harsh headline by today's standards — as to who had slain Miss Matilda Martin. They would identify a suspect before long, but I'll leave you guessing for now. This piece clearly crosses the line (again, by today's standards) into the realm of commentary. In our present enlightened era, you'll never see one of our news reports dismissing theories as "absurd" or spreading rumors about vanishing Italians. People have Facebook for that sort of thing now.
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