Deford: People were so impressed by the fact that we could do it with satellites. You know, print it with satellites. That sounded so glamorous and everything.
Rick Jaffe (Assistant Managing Editor):TOSHIBA PA3534U-1BAS Akku We were the first paper in the United States to go without a composing room.
Hinton: Price signed a contract for five years with Dow Jones for us to piggyback the Wall Street Journal's distribution system. The Journal probably didn't even think about this and didn't care. What nobody thought about was the stock markets close at what? Four o'clock? Well, the Yankees aren't even taking batting practice at four o'clock. So, OK, you've got the Yankees and the Mets playing in the East. The White Sox and the Cubs are an hour behind. TOSHIBA PA3534U-1BRS AkkuThe Dodgers haven't even begun in the West. So the Yankees are taking batting practice, and Dow Jones is saying to the people at The National, "Where are your plates? We've got to go." And The National is saying, "We're not going to have a first edition ready to go until the Yankees and Mets are done." They said, "When is that?" And we're saying, "Maybe eleven o'clock." And they're saying, "No, baby. We're going at five."
Reid Laymance (Senior Editor): I was in New York, and in charge of the editing and production process. I was supposed to be the last look at a page, the last read on a story, before it would shoot off to the satellite to be printed.TOSHIBA PA3535U-1BRS Akku What we found out was, jeez, we're doing a 48-page paper, but there's a New York version, a Chicago version, an L.A. version. Three times 48, that's 144 pages.
Doria: We were rolling out first in three cities -- New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. We added Detroit, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta. We planned to roll out others, too. San Diego, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, San Antonio. We wanted to open in just about every market in the United States. Eventually we wanted to launch in European cities, too.
Kindred: There were no test papers. They started hiring in the fall of '89 and wanted a paper by winter. TOSHIBA PA3682U-1BRS AkkuIt wasn't like we had six months to try and get this thing perfected. El Tigre was in a hurry. He wanted it done now.
Laymance: We realized the satellite could only do a page every three minutes. So you started realizing: 144 pages times three minutes each, that's 500 minutes. Well, that's seven hours.
Kindred: TOSHIBA PA3727U-1BRS AkkuDetroit was one of the places that if it rained, we couldn't produce the newspaper.
Shaw: When I was working in Detroit, there was a series between the Pistons and the Bulls, when the Bulls finally beat Detroit after knocking their heads against the wall, and the Pistons walked off without shaking hands. It was big, and I was at the game, had written a column on it,TOSHIBA PABAS098 Akku and there was bad weather that night. So, we never printed it.
Laymance: It snowed and you'd see a guy go up to the roof of 666 to knock snow off the satellite dish.
Price: Somebody went up with a ladder and a broom.
Hinton: I went to New York to pick up my laptop. They bought these state-of-the-art Toshibas, and they put in these really cheap modems. In the dial-up, we could not get my computer to link up into the computer at The National.TOSHIBA PABAS174 Akku I said, "This is a problem." And the computer grunt says, "We'll change the modems. We bought $30 modems." The computer people they hired, frankly, I think they dragged them in off the streets. I went in the men's room and Van McKenzie comes in and says, "How's it going?" And I said, "Look, we're fucked on this sending system." He said, "What are you talking about?" I said, "Van, I'm telling you. We couldn't transmit a story from the newsroom to the host computer. We tried 20 times." He said, "OK, come with me. We've got a meeting with Peter Price. I want you to go in and tell Frank and Peter what you told me." Frank shows some serious concern, because he's been a writer out in the field. And Peter Price -- who, I think, his total claim to journalism fame is that he'd been the editor of some Upper East Side magazine, some hoity-toity, Park Avenue publication -- he said, "Well that can't be." And I said, "Why can't it be?" And he said, "Because my people tell me it can't be." He wouldn't accept that we'd just failed. And I said, "Well, I'm telling you it is. And I'm telling you your computer people don't know what the hell they're doing." And he looks at me, and Van, who was looking out for me, says, "Eddie, don't you have a plane to catch?" I was fuming all the way to LaGuardia. I got home and I told my wife, "This thing's going to fail. It ain't going to work." And she said, "Why? I thought you had the best writers, the best editors." And I said, "We do. But we've got a terrible business side. They don't know what they're doing. The tech side doesn't know what they're doing, either. We can write and edit all we want, but if we can't publish the damn stuff,TOSHIBA Dynabook AX/52E Akku we're dead."
IV. "Design Nazis and Agate Fascists."
Pierce: Van McKenzie was a force of nature.
Kindred: He was big, gruff, lovable. Probably weighed 270. Loud, crude.
Shaw: If you put a flannel shirt on Van, and handed him an ax, he'd look like Grizzly Adams.
Doria: Van was a big card player, TOSHIBA Dynabook AX/52F Akkua gambler. Prodigious appetite. Loved to party. Could drink a lot of beer. But a really self-made guy. Not a heavily educated guy, really.
Carpenter: He took no guff. But when it was time for fantasy football, he told me, "Go find a restaurant!" I went out, looked around, came back and said, "Van, everything's really expensive." He told me, "Don't worry about it." Our draft tab was $1,000. He just covered it. No problem.
Laymance: Van had this theory: He drafted every kicker. Every pick he had was a kicker. He said,TOSHIBA Dynabook AX/52G Akku "Everybody needs one. They'll have to trade with me later."
Kindred: He invented the big, splashy sports section. Big graphics. Big pictures.
Shaw: Van was a big thinker. He had great ideas. I think he knew what kinds of stories would win APSE contests and he devoted a lot of resources to them. If he had an idea, or you had an idea that he wanted, he gave you unlimited resources.
Michael Knisley (Senior Editor,TOSHIBA Dynabook AX/53C Akku NFL and Boxing): I remember sitting in meetings with Van. Somebody would come up with an outlandish coverage idea and instead of immediately shooting it down, Van would talk about making it happen. He'd sit there, wave his hands around, and say, "Well, can't we just go hire somebody?" And so we did. We went and hired somebody to, for example, go to Japan to cover the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas fight. This was back when that sort of thing didn't happen much. Tyson had never lost; Douglas was a nobody. But Van said, "Let's do that." And there we were when Douglas beat him.
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