This Friday, the Typesetters Club will once again be holding its annual banquet/dance at the downtown Hyatt, the first one they’ve held in six years. The club was founded in 1897 as a place for newspapermen to get together and drink, smoke cigars and eat badly cooked steak. At the time, and for a ways into the twentieth century, the group thrived, thanks to the city’s thriving print media scene. At one point, in 1908, there were seventeen newspapers- The Journal-American, Evening Ledger, Examiner, Record, Eagle, Clarion, Sun-Recorder, Scroll, Press, Standard, Globetrotter, Metro-Politan, Gazette, Bee, Union-Star, Sentinel and the Telegraph. By mid-century, these had been whittled down to just three, the Journal-American, the Clarion-Standard and the Union-Star-Sentinel-Telegraph-Bee Gazette.
The Union-Star-Sentinel-Telegraph-Bee Gazette closed down in 1968 and the Clarion-Standard was purchased by the Journal-American. The two tried coexisting for a time, with the Journal-American as a morning paper and the Clarion-Standard as an afternoon publication. When this did not prove to work, the parent company tried a rolling circulation plan, where the Clarion-Standard would be sold in various parts of the city starting between 12:30 and 3 pm, depending upon the area, but this proved to be too unwieldly. So, in 1991 the present Journal-Clarion was formed (Of course, the exception to all of this is the News, a tabloid begun in 1953 which nothing short of nuclear war would be able to kill off).
Given all of this consolidation over the years, the Typesetters Club was in trouble, as its membership was continually laid off, moving to papers in other cities or dying away. Throughout much of the 80s and 90s, it limped along and would have certainly been kicked out of it’s clubhouse next to a couple of parking garages on Landon Avenue had it not made a decision to save itself in 1995. That’s when they decided to open their ranks to members of the televison media, reporters from the city’s two alternative weeklies and certain people in the public relations industry. This infusion of new blood, coupled with the launch of a new afternoon daily in 1996, The Evening Press, ensured that the Typesetters Club would continue for another few years, at least.
There is a bit of a “kitsch” factor for the younger membership now, as well as the attraction that the club’s status as an after-hours club holds (their liquor license, negotiated in 1940, somehow allows them to serve until four am). This has led to the installation of a DJ booth in the second floor meeting room and weekly beer pong/spelling bee nights, as well as the addition of Pabst and Strohs on tap in the lounge.
– R. White