The Newspaperman: A poem from the 1880s

August 8, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism, journalists, news, newspapers, reporters, reporting.

In doing some research in 19th century newspapers recently, I found this clever little poem:


Little they know. or even think,

Of the work there is in shedding Ink

By the busy wielders of pencil and pen,

Generally known as newspaper men.

“Jottings,” “In General,” “Spice of Life,”

“Variations,” and rumors rife,

Weekly notes and special news

All sorts of paragraphs to amuse.

Market reports and marine disasters,

Puffs of pills and patent plasters;

Now at the theatre in white cravat,

Claw hammer coat and open hat;

Then to the prize-ring, where you write

Sickening details of a bloody fight-

Back to the city, just in time

To report the sermon of some divine;

Steamboat collision, smash-up of trains,

Election returns to bother your brains;

Agent dramatic with long-winded story.

To write up his ” star” to theatrical glory;

Deaths and marriages, murders, rows,

Balls and parties, minstrel shows,

Stock speculations, bubbles of air,

Tossed aoout by bull and bear:

Praising the limb in the dancer’s pose,

And next the calves in the cattle shows;

Pencil in hand at the racing-course,

Taking the time of a trotting horse;

Jotting down each stroke and catch

Made in a famous base ball match;

Now of a street row taking a note,

And then of a row In a pleasure boat—

These are a few of the many things

At which the tireless pencil swings,


Bangor Daily Whig & Courier (Bangor, Maine),  Tuesday, January 13, 1880


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