As Newsrooms Close Across the Country, Remembering Why They Matter

By Tom Robbins

August 14, 2020

The Daily News office, now closed, was once filled with the sounds of people punching typewriter keys and shouting into telephones.Photograph by Ed Jackson / New York Daily News / Getty

Mortimer Matz, a New York press agent who turned ninety-six this summer, is one of the few people who remember what it was like to work at the Daily News in its glory days. Matz started at the News as a copyboy in 1949. When the photo assignment editor was called up to fight in Korea, Matz was promoted to take his place. Back then, the newspaper occupied several floors in an Art Deco skyscraper on East Forty-second Street. A bas-relief carving in the building’s granite street wall depicts a crowd of New Yorkers beneath the words “He Made So Many of Them.” The quote is attributed to Lincoln, who allegedly said, “God must love common people—he made so many of them,” although, like not a few stories in the paper, the sentiment was more important than the facts.

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Tom Robbins, an investigative journalist in residence at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and a contributing writer at the Marshall Project, has been a columnist and staff writer at the Village Voice, the Daily News, and the Observer.

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