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1 correction by peterwaugh - Show corrections

THE PENNY-A-LINER.

(The Newspaper Press.) THE universal penny, which has become so great a favorite with newspaper proprietors, and made them literally the greatest of all penny-a-

liners, has had a beneficent influence on the class of discursive reporters known by that once most opprobrious of Press names. The penny a-liner no longer exists, for there are but few papers who pay at so small a rate at the present day. The increased value of literary labor and the demand for news has affected the lowest as well as the highest of literary laborers, and the flimsy writer can now obtain three-halfpence, and in some cases, twopence, for every printed line that appears in the newspaper, of his com position. It is true that the higher amount is seldom paid for " flimsy," but if time permits, a knowing "liner" will know how to make a fair copy for the papers willing to pay for the   " special " character of its intelligence. With this increased demand for his labor, the " liner " has discovered that a clear, succinct nar rative of facts pays better in the long run than an occasional haul on the occasion of some great event, when all his copy is inserted. His copy, if kno*n to be close and accurate, is sure of acceptance under these circumstances, when bis compeers fail, for sub-editors have no great fondness for wading through a sea of " flimsy," and striking out the redundant expressions, figurative illustrations, and the extraordinary adjectives and superlatives, only to find the re sult some unimportant event which the public will grudge to read if inserted. The profession of "lining" seems to be a remnant of the Grub-street days of the literary world. The aspirant for literary or journalistic fame finds the avenues of celebrity and of for* tune closed to him ; either his habits are not regular, or he dislikes the routine toil of news paper life. Sometimea he finds that he has overrated his own abilities, or has not taken into account the possibility of cleverer men being in existence, and so he gradually falls back into the position of an outsider, a hanger on the skirts of the Press, and derives therefrom a precarious, but, if steady, a fair livelihood. He is not to be oonfounded with the " professional reporter," who has chambers, and who makes out his bills per folio. The "liner" seldom receives commission, and his labor is specu lative. The misfortunes of other men are bread for his children. An overwhelming calamity rejoices his heart, for it means a month's rent. He deplores a conflagration only when he cannot obtain the particular!, or a rival is in the field before him. Hence he is on intimate terms with the policeman and fireman of his district. He learns early the occurrence of an accident; he is great at inquests, where the coroner benignly recognise* his presence. His manifold writer, his small slips of paper, his little but rapid pen and well thambed notebook, are a part of the institution of the oldest Court in the United Kingdom, which any metropolitan juror will recognise as a visible embodiment of the Press in the sterner realities of life. The country liner is altogether a different being. In a few large towns he has only a separate existence from the ordinary news paper reporter, who adds a little to his salary by forwarding short paragraphs to the London or provincial dailies when anything extraordinary occurs. The liberty to do this is generally conceded, and is often expressly provided for in the engagement. Occasionally this source of income produces a considerable sum. A man of note dies suddenly, or after a lingering illness. A notice of his death and a few facts of his life are generally accepted. A terrific railway accident makes a large sum, but is frequently divided amongst several. Still, it is universally accepted, and therefore pro fitable. Uhe speech of a statesman on some popular topio is a godsend to some poor struggling reporter who knows how to con dense and forward it. A speech of the late Lord Pal mere ton was delivered in a remote town, and one of the reporters suggested to his comrade that it was worth " lining," and sug gested a division of the spoil. The other de murred to this n asonable proposition, and im mediately proceeded to write out his slips, produce his envelopes, and exhibit other signs of preparation. A glance at the clock showed the I first gentleman that there was time to catch a | train to a neighboring junction. As he went to j tho station, he met a young friend, took him with him, and in the waiting-room at the juno* I tion wrote out the speech, six folios at a time ; his friend copied it at the same rate; so that ere the express dashed up three hours after- , wards, he had a dozen copies of the speech ready, a column long. They reached their desti nation ) early by this coup. They came when " copy" was scarce, and were all accepted in full except onn, which was somewhat abridged. They were in type when tbe " flimsy" of the slower countryman arrived, who had to wait for a slower train to dispatch his copy. This is one instance only of many which shows the advan- I tage of a knowledge of not only what is wanted in a newspaper, but when and now to forward it. When there is like to be a political meeting of interest, or a scientific gathering of import ance, orders are given for the report to be paid at the usual rate of three-halfpence a line, or a gross sum for the whole report. There are some reporters who oiTer to forward the report of an agricultural meeting, for example, for a ridiculously email sum, trusting to a large number of orders. This underselling is not en couraged by any newspaper of standing, because they want a special, well-written report, and not a mero copy of wLat every paper in the country would produce. Tbe regular liners in the large towns are re tired reporters, who have partially adopted some other business, but who have retained tbe office of correspondent to distant papers. In cases of emergency they sometimes receive a special commission from the local papers to aid them. This position is frequently a very com fortable one, .-md is seldom a->saihd by any now comer. The representative of the London Press feels no little importance in his small sphere; and it he is paid by the line it ought not to be a ! matter of ridicule or contempt, for the greatest ! and best writers living are frequently so paid ; | and tho aanala of our literature would have { beeu free from more tban one stigma if Milton | had been paid by the line for his " Paradise , Lost," arid others, whose names are equally fa- \ miliar, had received even a farthing a line for j their undying thoughts. j

A Michigan census taker came across a man who hud been married five years, but had never inquired his wile's Christian name. He always called her "Say!"

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