February 19, 2009

Nothing new in news business

A search on Google last night reminded me there isn't anything new in the news business.

A comment in the Rent-A-Journalist post over on Free From Editors sent me searching for more on Dorf Feature Services. Like, what does Dorf mean?

That led to a sidetrack on news reporting services because mantra said there are 483 such services in the United States. I checked out some of the 14 with Michigan ties. (At least one is extinct, the Press Row Sports hasn't written anything for a few months and Associated Press bureaus counted for 4 services, confirming one of my Anonymous commenters that the Rent-A-Journalist idea is like a wire service).

That led to another sidetrack - in 1911, the news was delivered by telephone for $18 a year. Yes, folks could call the Telephone Herald. Check it out. (and to think some thought audiotext was new)

Oh, and Dorf? It was named by the founder based on his name. Sid Dorfman took over the news syndication firm he was working for in 1938 and renamed it a year later. By the way, the link will take you to a 2006 New Jersey Jewish News story, where I learned the agency supplied "life cycle stories" like weddings, obituaries to area newspapers. And, in 2006, he had 50 full-time and 40 part-time employees.

He had started as a correspondent for a Newark, New Jersey three years earlier. He's still writing a sports column for the Star-Ledger - see NJ Sports. NJ.com has a photo gallery with 19 photos of Sid, including a Dorf press pass from 1938.

Yes, the more I learned about Dorfman, the more I learned just how long NJ's Star-Ledger has arranged for content via agencies. For instance, read this memory of the first SL byline.

I even found a copy of a 2007 article the Dorf Feature Service buying out some employees.

Enough. I've got a Google request from my daughter. Let's see where that goes.


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