We'll no longer be the best darn newspaper on Bath Street

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After almost 30 years, the Nevada Appeal is going to have to change its motto.

No longer will we be known as "the best darn newspaper on Bath Street." We're going to have to become "the best darn newspaper on Mallory Way."

Yes, we're getting ready for the big move to our new building, which will take place on the weekend of March 8. In preparation, it's been my goal to throw away 40 pounds of junk every day.

The Appeal has been on Bath Street since 1974. If you think your home fills up with useless crap, you should see a newspaper office.

Stuff I can't bear to throw away:

-- The dozen or so letters I received from overseas asking that Nevada not execute Richard Allen Moran on March 30, 1996. Unfortunately, the letters arrived on April 1, 1996 -- two days too late.

"If Richard Allen Moran hasn't yet been executed," reads a typical example, from Justin Ajufo in Denmark, "I should like to request you to use your good offices to bring about a commutation of this and other death sentences."

-- A rolled-up copy of the Appeal of Aug. 31, 1997, spattered with blood-red paint and a dollar bill stuck in the rubber band. The headline: "Diana dies in Paris crash." The subhead: "Egyptian millionaire also killed while fleeing French paparazzi."

-- Two copies of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States, given to me by dear readers.

-- A variety of campaign buttons, one of which says "Don't Let Washington Spend My Tax Cut!"

-- The fortune from a cookie that says, "You will inherit a large sum of money." Unfortunately, it doesn't say when. It's been taped to my computer for five years now.

-- The March 29, 1979, front page of the Nevada Appeal. "FIRE GUTS APPEAL," screams the headline. The photo caption notes that firefighters fear there will be little salvageable from the newsroom. That means to me there could have been a lot more stuff to sort through.

-- A giant pair of scissors with Sue Morrow's name on the side.

-- A Tandy 102 portable computer, complete with manual.

-- A brass spittoon of unknown origin.

-- A first-place trophy from the 1983 Optimists-FISH annual tug-of-war. The plaque says it's for the 1,500-pound class. It doesn't say how many people were on the team to reach that weight.

-- A March 9, 1980, copy of the Nevada Appeal's Sunday magazine, called "Apple Tree."

It contains some interesting local features, such as a historical item on Virginia City residents holding a parade to raise money for the victims of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

But I also enjoy it for the TV section, which wonders if posters of Catherine Bach, Daisy on the "Dukes of Hazard," will ever sell as much as Cheryl Tiegs or Farrah Fawcett.

The curious thing about a newspaper is how we write history every day, but it's in such a disposable form.

We have copies of the Nevada Appeal dating to 1907 (thanks to Alan Glover, who was keeping them for the city), but we'd be hard pressed to come up with an actual copy of a newspaper from two years ago.

We recycle them. We keep the contents on computers, and the State Library & Archives has them on microfilm. In fact, if we want to look something up prior to 1995, the easiest way is for a reporter to go over to the State Library.

Here is a newspaper printed continuously since 1865 -- from a building at Second and Carson streets, then on West Telegraph, then the Carson Brewing building that now houses the Brewery Arts Center, at Bath Street and soon from Mallory Way -- with a repository of Carson City knowledge unmatched anywhere.

Births, deaths, marriages. State basketball championships and legislative elections. Murder trials and birthday parties. Ribbon cuttings and house fires.

We deliver it to your door every morning, then you put it in the recycling bin once a week and away it goes.

Inside the office at 200 Bath St., it's not that different. We just can't keep that much history sitting around. Sure, we have file cabinets stuffed with clippings, with photographs, with Board of Supervisors agendas and transit studies and bill draft requests and ... oh, the stuff we have.

Unfortunately, when you go looking for something, it's usually not there. Newspaper offices are not exactly the most organized places on earth.

So we leave the bulk of the archiving to the professionals (who are the most organized people on earth), and we simply spit out as much history as we can fit into the newspaper each day.

Someday, an archaeologist will come digging for clues to the society that lived in Carson City in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. I hope they'll still be able to read the contents of the newspapers we are producing.

But if they go poking around in ruins of the buildings of the Nevada Appeal, I hope they don't get the wrong idea from that tug-of-war trophy for the 1,500-pound class.

Barry Smith is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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