Memories Well Up as Reporters' Boot Camp Nears End

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For more than a century, the young reporters from City News have delivered just-the-facts accounts of Chicago's biggest and, more often, smallest news events.

But City News Service, where flowery prose was mocked and accuracy about the tiniest of factual detail was demanded, is closing. The demise of the wire service, which opened in 1890 as a cooperative deal among Chicago newspapers, signifies many ends.

It is the close of a pre-Internet age, when news outlets could afford to share basic information with their competitors. It is also a goodbye to the memories of an era when reporters drank, smoked and played poker on the job and said whatever it took to enter a crime scene.

It is also the closing of a boot camp for the greenest reporters, including a few who went on to be famous.

"You had to get everything exactly right or the editors would give you hell," said Kurt Vonnegut, the author, who worked at City News in the 40's.

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