This print issue of Ad Age that came out today was produced entirely remotely for the first time since I became editor three years ago. As the world adjusts to working from home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Ad Age team is no different. All of our reporters, editors, designers and producers (not to mention our sales, events and marketing teams) have been doing our part for the social-isolation cause. Putting out the fishwrap has been slower, yes, and logistically challenging. But fortunately, in our hyper-connected time, it’s been a pretty seamless transition.
That wasn’t the case in 1945. As a rash of massive postwar labor strikes swept across the country, Ad Age found itself caught in the maw when 2,000 Chicago typographers’ union members voted to shut down the city’s printing industry. (Advertising Age was laid out and printed in Chicago at the time; eventually the main editorial operations would shift to Manhattan, though we still have a robust Chicago bureau.)
“Publishers of nearly 200 business papers, of scores of general magazines and of hundreds of house organs, catalogs, etc., have been thrown into turmoil,” we wrote in the lead story on October 8, 1945.
It was, we noted, “the Smallest AA Issue Ever Printed,” an eight-page “pony” edition. “It isn’t customary to brag about a paper’s smallest issue, but we’re rather proud of this one. It has been produced with the sweat of the editorial department’s brow and the exercise of considerable ingenuity, because of a printing trades strike.” (See the full front page below.)
This week's issue, for the record, is a slimmer-than-usual 28 pages. More colt than pony.
The October 15, 1945, issue was even more of a curiosity: The Ad Age staff was able to put out 32 pages, even including a few ads. And it was all smashed out on a typewriter. “The body copy is set on the Vari-Typer, and the issue is produced by photo-lithography,” we crowed.
“We still have hopes—although they are merely hopes—that we shall be able to get back to normal next week,” we wrote. Sound familiar?
As it happens, the subsequent issue would be the last we produced on the Vari-Typer: 16 pages longer, to boot. Persistence saw us through lean times before, and it surely will again. Ingenuity and tenacity always win.