Famous Newsies of Yore

Legend has it that the first newspaper boy was 10-year-old Barney Flaherty, hired in 1833 by the New York Sun in response to an advertisement that read: “To the Unemployed a number of steady men can find employment by vending this paper.” A boy on his bicycle delivering the Toronto Star in 1940. Photo by Marjorie Georgina Ruddy via Wikimedia Commons
Ambitious, enterprising youngsters were soon selling and delivering newspapers throughout the country. The first job for many a successful person, the list of famous folks who got their start as newspaper delivery boys includes:

Walt Disney
H. Ross Perot
Bob Hope
Ed Sullivan
Danny Thomas
John Wayne
Bing Crosby
Jimmy Durante
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Herbert Hoover
Martin Luther King Jr.
Harry S. Truman
Ed Sullivan
Isaac Asimov
Carl Sandburg
Tom Brokaw
Wayne Gretzky
Jackie Robinson
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Source: Newspaper Association of America via Library Spot
Want to know more about what it was like to be a newspaper delivery boy? Coming up later this week, we’ve got an interview with a former newsie who worked right here in San Francisco.

Roundup: The Best of the San Francisco Public Press

In the mood for a good Friday afternoon read? Since it launched in March 2009, the San Francisco Public Press has published in-depth investigative stories on public-interest topics ranging from human trafficking to smart growth. With our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign, we’re hoping to double our San Francisco distribution, giving more readers access to these important, under-reported stories. Here’s a roundup of some of our best articles and special reports:

Cost overruns on the Bay Bridge (with McSweeney’s Panorama) (Winter 2009)

Treasure Island: redevelopment on shaky ground (Summer 2010)

Efforts to improve Muni’s on-time record through technology (Winter 2010)

The Bay Area media meltdown (Spring 2011)

The struggle to balance San Francisco’s budget (Fall 2011)

The battle against human trafficking (Spring 2012)

Regional approach to climate change by promoting smart growth (Summer 2012)

San Francisco law enforcement’s uneven efforts on domestic violence (Fall 2012)

Delays in earthquake retrofitting leave thousands vulnerable (Winter 2012-2013)

David Cohn on Artisanal News

“What I love about what the San Francisco Public Press is doing is the idea of treating news almost artisanal… Lots of time, and love, and energy, and sweat and blood goes into each paper…”
David Cohn is a San Francisco Public Press board member and longtime advisor in the realm of all things digital. After founding Spot.us, which was acquired by American Public Media, David joined the founding team at Circa – a mobile news app that covers world events by constantly recombining brief updates – where he is now Chief Content Officer. Here’s what he had to say about the San Francisco Public Press and our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign:

It Takes More Than a Catchy Headline

“Newsies,” which came out in 1992, is a cult classic film loosely based on the New York City Newsboys Strike of 1899. We’re taking this piece of immortal wisdom to heart with our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign, which will help us hire our own team of newsies to deliver the San Francisco Public Press print editions by bicycle straight to your door. We’ve got the headlines covered – we need your support to get our newsies-on-wheels out there! Gif courtesy of the-birdie


Housing Solution: Allow Off-the-Shelf Homes in San Francisco’s Underused Spaces

Two Bay Area designers are re-imagining the home as a simple consumer good. If they and other entrepreneurs are successful, San Francisco’s marginal land — including parking spaces — could theoretically be retrofitted to accommodate hundreds or thousands of these barebones, movable living spaces. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.


Pitching Visions of an Affordable San Francisco at ‘Hack the Housing Crisis’

San Francisco has become the epicenter of the Bay Area’s affordability crisis, with high-tech corporations moving in, rents climbing skyward, and despair and evictions sweeping through long-established but lower-income communities. Yet for the sold-out crowd of 140 housing-policy visionaries, advocates, experts and activists at Hack the Housing Crisis, San Francisco’s struggle to house its citizens is an opportunity to build a better city for all. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.

A Subway-Style Map for Cyclists

With your support for our Pedal-Powered News campaign on Kickstarter, we’ll have a team of newsies on bikes ready to deliver our summer print edition to destinations throughout San Francisco. What routes will they take as they zoom around the city? Very likely one of these:

This subway-style map comes courtesy of San Francisco cyclist Mat Kladney, who submitted it to the See-Through Maps exhibition at U.C. Berkeley last year, where it was a finalist. “As a long time cyclist, I recently realized that the mental map that exists in my mind of San Francisco is different from most (and importantly does not exist in print form),” Kladney wrote in an essay accompanying the map. Kladney’s map answers the simple, practical question “how do I get from here to there?” But as any cyclist will tell you, the ride is often its own reward.


Housing Solution: Backyard Cottages Could Add One-Third More Homes to San Francisco

San Francisco could boost its housing stock by as much as one-third — if only homeowners were allowed to build tiny, freestanding cottages in their backyards. This would satisfy the city’s policy of “infill development,” putting more housing on existing underutilized land. But first, the city would have to tweak existing building regulations tailored to mid-20th century lifestyles. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.


Seeking San Francisco Affordable Housing Solutions, 20 Seconds at a Time

A slew of housing experts each sped through 20 slides lasting 20 seconds apiece Tuesday night in a search for solutions to the affordable housing crisis in San Francisco. Not all of their ideas were entirely new, but some of the presenters fleshed out concepts that have been floating around San Francisco political and development circles. Part of a special report on solutions for housing affordability.

Liz Canning with her children on her cargo bike.

Bikes Haul It All in ‘Less Car More Go’

The Public Press will soon be getting into the cargo bike business with our Pedal-Powered News Kickstarter campaign. We thought it would be a good idea to learn more about the field, so we talked to Liz Canning, a filmmaker and animator based in Fairfax, California, about “Less Car More Go,” her crowd-sourced documentary about the birth and boom of the cargo bike, for which she’s currently raising funds. The following interview has been edited and condensed. Photo courtesy of Liz Canning. Can you tell us a bit about the history of cargo bikes?