On Oct. 1, 1975, the Post's pressmen began a long-threatened strike. According to then-publisher Katharine Graham's memoir, "Personal History," the pressmen sabotaged the newspaper's nine presses, setting fire to one, beating up the pressroom foreman and then picketing outside the newspaper building.
The Post printed no newspaper on Oct. 2, as executives tried to figure out an alternative way to get the next day's issue out. They found six smaller plants in the area willing to help, so the company hired helicopters to carry the printing plates from the Post's headquarters to these scattered facilities.
The names of the six weren't publicized at the time for fear of reprisal from the strikers. But one press belonged to the Times-Dispatch. Publisher J. Stewart Bryan III says the Richmond newspaper helped print the Post for a month and a half to two months.
In return for the assistance, some media-watchers have whispered, the two newspapers forged an unspoken agreement that the Washington paper would stay out of the Richmond territory.
"I don't think so," Bryan says of the tale. "I never heard of it before." He points out that the Post has sold papers in Richmond "for as long as I've been alive, and that's been 65 years."
Earle Dunford, author of "Richmond Times-Dispatch: The Story of a Newspaper," never heard of such an arrangement either, he says. He does recall Graham paying a visit at the time of the strike to then-publisher D. Tennant Bryan, who was her good friend.
Whether the story is fact or fiction, the Post is now here. Area residents recently began receiving calls soliciting subscriptions. A subscription costs about $5.90 weekly, including the Sunday paper $2.75 more than what subscribers in Northern Virginia pay. Home delivery has been expanded from a few areas around Richmond to 16 zip codes that cover the metro area.
Still, a spokesman for the Post says it's a "very small-scale" operation. The Times-Dispatch's Bryan doesn't seem concerned. He says he expects the Post to have no impact on his paper's business. M.S.S.
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