You’ve got to love a good newspaper spat, especially one that goes back decades.
Today the Las Vegas Review-Journal has a story about how a few teenagers in 1967 hoaxed the Las Vegas Sun with a Polaroid “UFO” photo that was actually a hubcap tossed into the air. The photo warranted a screaming red, all-caps banner headline in a size they used to call a “wood,” because no one had metal type that big. The headline reads: “Mysterious flying ship ‘scouts’ Las Vegas area.”
But the photo that was the central topic of the tale ran on an inside page, while the dominant photo on the front page was one of Gov. Paul Laxalt talking at some pro-Israel function, a favorite topic of the Sun, possibly because its editor had been convicted of running guns to Israel. Next to that photo was Hank Greenspun’s “Where I Stand” column. He gave the column that name because an R-J editor once wrote a “Where I Sit” column.
Now, in my way of thinking, a photo that warranted a screaming headline on the cover screamed to be printed on the cover, but no. As for the R-J’s coverage of the hoax, it did not find that photo worthy of print, relegating the actual hoax pix that was the topic of the piece to a package of photos online.
The R-J story also noted that it was the R-J that corrected the hoax the next day:
On June 14, 1967, a mere 24 hours after the hoax had gone as viral as something could go in the ’60s, the Las Vegas Review-Journal ended it.
“The mysterious flying ship ‘scouting’ Las Vegas Monday night turned out to be a hubcap, sources close to the ‘ship’ revealed Tuesday afternoon,” the lede read.
Yes, the story uses the old typesetter’s lexicon, spelling the word “lede,” which is not in most dictionaries nor in the AP Stylebook, which I think they still use, even though they don’t subscribe to the AP service.
But two old Hank Greenspun columns delivered on the same day is a bit much. Over in the Sun section, son Brian reprinted the second of three columns from the era of the hoax by Hank. The intro by Brian includes this dig at the R-J:
The first two columns talk about the building of the MGM Hotel (now Bally’s) and the third discusses allegations of mob association that existed only in the small minds of some hoodlums and on the pages of the other newspaper in Las Vegas.
I wonder whether the third installment will mention that in 1947 Greenspun was hired by mobster Bugsy Siegel as publicist for his Flamingo Hotel or that Greenspun wrote a column called “Flamingo Chatter” for the R-J? Will it mention his stake in the Desert Inn was reduced to 1 percent when Cleveland racketeers Morris “Moe” Dalitz, Sam Tucker and Morris Kleinman won control.
The R-J story did not mention that there were a number of UFO sightings in 1967.
Of course, I must plead guilty to having tweaked the upturned Greenspun nose a time or two myself.