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Newspaper Pages in Star Trek
by
Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider

Introduction - List of Episodes & Movies - Text Modules - Addendum

 

Introduction

In a number of Star Trek episodes we can see newspaper pages. There is always a central article on a page, one that is relevant for the episode. The rest of the page, however, needs to show text too in order to appear as realistic. This is where the so-called "filler text" comes into play. Until the advent of desktop publishing, providing newspaper props with a combination of relevant text and filler text was a very specialized service.

The following article investigates the use of filler text in various Trek episodes. I have come to the conclusion that in all appearances of newspapers the same set of filler text was used. Furthermore I could identify some of the original text sources.

 

List of Episodes & Movies

The City on the Edge of Forever - first article In this episode Spock reads two newspaper articles from The Star Dispatch. It is interesting to note that this fictional paper has appearances in other TV series and movies of the time, such as "Astro-Zombies", "All the King's Men (1949)", "Batman and Robin (1949)" and "Bewitched".

The first newspaper article deals with Edith Keeler's death. To the left and to the right of this article we can see the filler text. The one in the left column is about the sale of unmentioned things and about a dispute "between farmers and labor organizations". Typically, in filler text there is never a definite subject, in order to keep it as general as possible, so it can be used for any time and place.

Below the filler text we can see a headline ("South Shifts Its Population – Survey Reveals Exodus Into Cities") that is possibly about a real-world topic, rather than a mere filler text.

The filler text on the right tells us about a lack of schools and then switches to a committee discussing loans. This is followed by a weather forecast.

Above the central article about Edith Keeler's death there are four short articles that become visible after a zoom-in. The first ("Paris -...") is about a meeting of the American ambassador with the new French Foreign Minister. This appears to be an actual article from the year 1941. In February 1941 Jean Louis Xavier François Darlan became Foreign Minister of the Vichy Regime. In the text the last Darlan was replaced with a different name starting with an "L". The title (Vice Premier Admiral), the time and the position, on the other hand, indicate that indeed Darlan was originally meant.

The second one ("Returns Auto, Admits Slaying") deals with the murder of a man named Alfredo Pedillo Jose. The source could not be identified yet.

The third article is about excuses of men who are driving cars without license tags. The statement "I'm going to be drafted next months and don't want to spend $15 or $20." fits the time of the entry of the USA into the Second World War.

The fourth article ("Americans Warned Out") is an official warning issued to American citizens to leave Thailand. It is from the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, February 24th, 1941.

The original text reads as follows:

"Bangkok, Thailand — (AP)— United States citizens without urgent reasons for remaining in Thailand have been advised to leave for home, United States Minister Hugh G. Grant announced today."

In "The City on the Edge of Forever" it was modified to:

"Bangkok, Thailand – United States citizens without urgent reasons for remaining in Thailand (Siam) have been advised to leave for home, the United States Minister announced today."

As it is customary in filler texts, a name was removed to let it appear more generic.

Below the picture of Edith Keeler there is a headline that obviously refers to the episode. Below this headline we can see small filler text again: "A suggestion that public hearings on applications be limited to one every...". This sentence is important, as it will appear on almost all other newspaper pages of the next 30 years of Star Trek!

The complete text of the first page, as far it can be deciphered, is as follows:

Left column:

For the near future there are favorable implications on the fact that the recent XXX have not gone XXX as far down as the low point, which would have been normal. This fact shows a degree of XXX.

Now is this to be disXXX as a XXX XXX of the XXX year and XXX selling. First there was a XXX of such selling. Second the XXX was postponed and came into the market last week. It is significant that the whole volume of the selling was XXX and that is evidence for pressure XXX on the down side.

"We find there are troubles and misunderstandings, yes, and sometime violence in different parts of our land between farmers and labor organizations" he asserted.

XXX were already made. It is possible XXX XXX fluctuations, sales will most businesses are convinced that XXX XXX of a congressional hearing.

South Shifts Its Population
Survey Reveals Exodus Into cities

Middle column:

PARIS - Vice Premier Adm. Jean XXXX received the United States Ambassador today for the American's first visit since he became Foreign Minister February 9.

Returns Auto, Admits Slaying
Appearing at a friend's home to return a borrowed car, Bobby Cabe, 23, was arrested and confessed, police said, to slaying Alfredo Pedillo Jose, 21, who was found fatally wounded in the hallway of an apartment house.

Lee's Summit, MO - This, say highway patrolmen, is a popular excuse motorists give for not having license tags.
"I'm going to be drafted next months and don't want to spend $15 or $20".

Americans warned out
BANGKOK, Thailand - United States citizens without urgent reasons for remaining in Thailand (Siam) have been advised to leave for home, the United States Minister announced today.

SOCIAL WORKER KILLED

[Picture]
EDITH KEELER

Edith Keeler, social worker from 21st Street Mission was killed today.

A suggestion that public hearings on applications be limited to one every

Right column:

As you know the problem of providing schools for our ever growing youth is becoming more and more serious. In the next five years an average of 11,000 more children each year will be enrolled in public schools.
At the present time we don't have the facilities to give all of those children a full day's schooling.

Many things will have to be XXX before additional action can be taken and it remains for the reader to XXX a thorough study of the facts before a decision can be reached.

Now then we have an organization XXX integrity which will guarantee absolute fairness to each contestant. The method of XXX will be scientifically worked out so as to produce a result which will be beyond the XXX of any one.

The judging service which has been secured is based on a permanently employed organization of readers, junior judges and senior judges and is efficiently supervised under criticism management.

While deliberations of the committee were held in private, the difficulties which it faced were evident from conversation following announcement of the membership.

Several members were of the opinion that they should stand on their own feet without consideration for what action may have been taken at the last convention.

Just how serious the need may be is a subject of dispute itself. S. Gilbert, the loan guaranty officer, of the administration here, said that ownership achieved from local lenders, the need was desperate and the surface had hardly been scratched.

Never in thirty years in the business, he said, has he seen such a "marvelous record of repayment of loans."

Government losses to date through guaranteeing such mortgages, he added, amount to one five-thousandth of one per cent.

Today's Calendar
THE WEATHER

Fair tonight and tomorrow, slightly warmer tonight, moderate to fresh southerly to westerly winds.

The City on the Edge of Forever - second article The second newspaper page visible in the episode deals with a meeting of Edith Keeler with President Roosevelt ("F.D.R. Confers With Slum Area 'Angel'"). For this page filler text was used as well.

The left column tells us about the cutting down of the lots on the "Rincon Terrace". Excerpts from the filler article will appear many years later in "Time's Arrow, Part I".

The right column is about a plan for "further advance of industrial production", and as such quite generic.

In the middle column there is filler text too, below the picture and the custom text for the episode. It reads: "The present plan again demonstrates before the whole world the...". More extensive excerpts from this "plan" can be found on the newspaper pages from "Spectre of the Gun" und "Time’s Arrow, Part I".

After some Googling we can find out that this text comes from the Five-Year Plan of the Soviet Union from 1952! Google Books finds the text in the Current History edition of August 1952. Likewise, we can find several other excerpts of the same source, as the appear in "Spectre of the Gun". Some modifications were made to the original text in order to turn it into filler text. Most notably "Five Year Plan" simply became "plan", and the mentions of the Soviet Union were removed. It is curious how easily this ideological blurb could be turned into a generic filler text.

The complete text of the second page, as far it can be deciphered, is as follows:

Left column:

Maps Plan for XXX Program

In one move the city planning board and zoning commission yesterday both tightened and loosened restrictions on subdivision plats offered for approval.

The commission approved the plat of Rincon terrace which includes lots having 8,500 square feet instead of 9,000, the previously minimum. The exception was made because of the location of the subdivision and the fact that the subdivider plans to build low-cost homes there.

The board feels that, where an area lends itself to housing developments and where there is a plan for putting up such dwellings, the minimum restriction should be removed to make the program possible. Exceptions will continue to be made on an individual basis.

But the board tightened restrictions by XXX that approvals carry a notice stating that lots will not be further divided to decrease size. It was pointed out that in the past some subdivisions have secured approval of plat cut and then cut the lots so that the minimum requirements did not prevail. A suggestion that public hearings on applications be limited to one every six months was taken under advisement by the commission.

Middle column:

[Picture]
EDITH KEELER

F.D.R. CONFERS WITH SLUM AREA "ANGEL"

Feb. 23, 1936 - The President and Edith Keeler conferred for some time on her idea for a plan of action for the needy

The present plan again demonstrates before the whole world the 

Right column:

MAYOR APPROVES BUDGET INCREASE

Streets, Sanitation, Needs to be Adequately Met

City Council Begins Debate on Budget Changes

In conformity with the plan for the further advance of industrial production, to approximately double state capital investments in industry. Together with the commissioning of new enterprises and units, to insure an increase in the capacities of operating enterprises by their reconstruction, installation and intensification of production, and improvement of technological processes.

To make use of the expansion of the existing enterprises as a major reserve for increasing production with the least outlays.

To create in advance reserves in the construction of plants, power stations, and coal mines so as to insure the necessary development of these industries in subsequent years.

To insure an improvement in the geographic distribution of construction of industrial enterprises in the new plan, bringing industry still closer to the sources of raw material and fuel with the object of eliminating irrational and excessively long shipments.

Spectre of the Gun In this episode we can see a newspaper page from the Tombstone Epitaph of October 26, 1881. The date, together with the mention of "OK Corral" in the fifth column, is a broad hint what the story is about. The visible parts of the four other columns of this paper could be deciphered in their entirety.

The left column contains excerpts from the already mentioned Fifth Five-Year Plan. The last paragraph includes the sentence that was already visible in "The City on the Edge of Forever" below Edith Keeler’s picture: "The present plan again demonstrates before the whole world the great vital force. This plan is a plan of peaceful, economic, and cultural construction."

In the second column we can see a report on the state of the economy.

The first two paragraphs of the third column too describe the state of the economy. These two paragraphs could be identified. They are from Sarasota Herald-Tribune of June 22nd, 1954. The fact that the two sources already identified are from the early 1950s, rather than of the 1960s, is an indication that they were created for Hollywood movies of the time. The rest of the third column deals with a hearing prior to an election.

The fourth column contains excerpts from different sources. Among them is another part of the Five-Year Plan, but also another assessment of the economical situation of the USA.

The complete text, as far it can be deciphered, is as follows:

First column:

In conformity with the plan for the further advance of industrial production, to approximately double state capital investments in industry. Together with the commissioning of new enterprises and units, to insure an increase in the capacities of operating enterprises by their reconstruction, installation and intensification of production, and improvement of technological processes.

To make use of the expansion of the existing enterprises as a major reserve for increasing production with the least outlays.

To create in advance reserves in the construction of plants, power stations, and coal mines so as to insure the necessary development of these industries in subsequent years.
To insure an improvement in the geographic distribution of construction of industrial enterprises in the new plan, bringing industry still closer to the sources of raw material and fuel with the object of eliminating irrational and excessively long shipments.

To increase by two times the material and food reserves, which could insure the country against any eventuality. 

The present plan again demonstrates before the whole world the great vital force. This plan is a plan of peaceful, economic, and cultural construction. 

Second column:

With its high level of capital spending during an interval of business recession and uncertain future, industry is not only providing a real demonstration of confidence in the future but also an important stabilizing prop for business.

During the past few years business outlays with their vitalizing impact on the economy, have been a major factor in maintaining boom conditions.

As pointed out in its recent annual survey of business plans for new plant and equipment this bullishness displayed by businessmen "is not a case of whistling in the dark. They frankly expect a decline in sales this year, but the minor dip we've experienced isn't halting large-scale additions to productive capacity."

Capacity is being increased because most businessmen are convinced that despite occasional fluctuations, sales will rise over the long haul. Intent on bettering their economic position, the majority of companies are proceeding on the theory that building extra facilities in a period of sales decline will pay off as soon as demand picks up

The report might be compared to an unedited film of a congressional hearing. It is just as confusing and by no means as entertaining. But politicians will be mining this record for partisan nugget

Third column:

TOWN SOCIAL HALL IS PLANNED

The commerce department reported today that Europe's economy kept on improving during the first 3 months of this year, despite the downturn in this country.

Business abroad has been so good, in fact, the report said, that foreign gold and dollar reserves rose by half a billion dollars in the first quarter.

This procedure, of course, is as political as the other moves, but it does have the defense that its purpose is to inform the public of matters which they may be entitled to know before the election.

The man in the middle is chief counsel for the committee. He argued against immediate hearings, when the party demanded them, on the ground that several months were needed to complete his investigation. The members stood firmly behind him - at first.

Now it develops that this support from the majority will be determined entirely by the political considerations. He must wonder how much, when and if hearings are finally held, he will be expected - or permitted - to reveal.

To insure that the capital investment

Fourth column:

The present plan again demonstrates before the whole world the great vital force. This plan is a plan of peaceful, economic, and cultural construction. It will facilitate the further consolidation and extension of economic collaboration of the countries and the development of economic relations with all countries wishing to develop trade on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

Conversely, industrial production might be expected to dip to levels roughly equivalent to those hoped for only in the event of a catastrophic depression in this country, one equaling or exceeding that of the early Thirties.

Developments expected in the near future will tend to shed some light on the case, but at the present, the authorities are unable to bring about a satisfactory version of the operations.

Investigations are to begin immediately, according to the authorities in an exclusive statement. While the various accounts have been recorded, it is obvious that much work will have to be done to bring about a conviction.

In conformity with the plan for the further advance of industrial production, to approximately double state capital investments in industry. Together with the

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home In this movie we are shown the upper half of the front page of the fictional San Francisco Register. The main headline "Nuclear Arms Talks Stalled -- Geneva Summit in Doubt" is another confirmation that the crew must have arrived in the second half of the 20th century. The six columns consist of the same text passages. These deal with a conference in which an important decision was made. Of course, no direct mention is made what exactly the conference is about, in order to keep the filler text as generic as possible. The same text passages would appear in later Star Trek installments, as well as in other series and movies. A source of this set of filler texts could not yet be identified though.

It first seemed that there was no connection between these new filler texts and the ones already known from TOS. After all, it is well possible that some time between the 1960s and the 1980s the standard text for newspapers was exchanged. However, already in "The City on the Edge of Forever" we can make out the short sentence "A suggestion that public hearings on applications be limited to one every" below the picture of Edith Keeler. This exact sentence is the beginning of the more extensive passage "A suggestion that public hearings on applications be limited to one every six months was taken under advisement by the commission." that appears in the newspaper article of "Star Trek IV" and also in the four following Star Trek series. So we can say that the basic filler text remained the same throughout 30 years of Star Trek.

The Big Goodbye Here we can page 3 of the real-world San Francisco Herald. With the exception of the photo of the fictional Jessica Bradley and the corresponding headline "Wealthy Socialite Murdered", the entire page consists of filler text. It is the same text that was already used for "Star Trek IV".

The text remains unchanged in TNG-R, although it doesn't refer to the headline. We can see that some passages repeat, such as the first one "The facts regarding the situation..." that appears again later in the article.

 

Time’s Arrow, Part I In this episode we can see two pages of the fictional San Francisco Register.

On the first page with the main headline "Cholera Outbreak - Hundreds Die" only parts of two columns are visible. Anyway, both excerpts are made up of the filler text that is already known from TOS. The one in the left column is once again taken from the Five-Year Plan as it was already on screen in "The City on the Edge of Forever" and "Spectre of the Gun". The text in the right column is the already known one about the lots of the "Rincon Terrace" from "The City on the Edge of Forever".

It is not possible to decipher the text on the second page, which shows a picture of Guinan and the line "Literary Reception Announced" that is relevant for the story. Owing to the lengths of the words and the paragraphs, however, it is possible to identify it as the passage on the conference as it already appeared in "Star Trek IV" and "The Big Goodbye".

 
Future's End Braxton possesses a wrinkled newspaper page with an article about Henry Starling. It is not identifiable from which newspaper this page is taken. To the left and to the right of the central picture there are once again columns ("... Offer... Risks..." and "Will Pay Debts... Arrears by End of Year - Brazil") with already familiar filler text from "Star Trek IV".
 
11:59 The article headings ("Congress, White House Join To Seek Budget Deficit Cuts" and "Bookstore To Stay Open") and the picture of Henry Janeway are new, but all new articles consist of the already known stock filler text.

 

Text Modules

Frequently used text modules These passages appear frequently in newspapers in Trek episodes, over a time of more than 30 years.

Five-Year Plan Here is the unabridged excerpt from the Fifth Five-Year Plan of the Soviet Union, composed using Google Books und excerpts from the August edition of Current History from 1952. The passages that were removed in order to let it appear more generic are crossed out.

"In conformity with the plan for the further advance of industrial production, to approximately double state capital investments in industry in 1951-55, as against 1946-50. Together with the commissioning of new enterprises and units, to insure an increase in the capacities of operating enterprises by their reconstruction, installation of new equipment, mechanization and intensification of production, and improvement of technological processes.

To make use of the expansion of the existing enterprises as a major reserve for increasing production with the least outlays.

To create in advance reserves in the construction of metallurgical plants, power stations, oil refineries, and coal mines so as to insure the necessary development of these industries in subsequent years.

To insure an improvement in the geographic distribution of construction of industrial enterprises in the new Five Year Plan, bringing industry still closer to the sources of raw material and fuel with the object of eliminating irrational and excessively long shipments.

(...)

To increase by two times the State material and food reserves, which could insure the country against any eventuality.

The present Five Year Plan again demonstrates before the whole world the great vital force of socialism, the fundamental superiority of the Socialist system of economy over the capitalist system.

This Five Year Plan is a plan of peaceful, economic, and cultural construction. It will facilitate the further consolidation and extension of economic collaboration of the Soviet Union and the countries of people's democracy and the development of economic relations with all countries wishing to develop trade on the basis of equality and mutual benefit."

 

Addendum

Other movies The most frequently re-used filler text appeared in several other movies and TV series, including Back to the Future and Supernatural.

The excerpt from the Five-Year plan also shows up in Newsies.

Origin of the clippings One possible source of the filler texts for the various Star Trek episodes is a company named Earl Hays Press. The company has been producing fictional newspapers since 1915. The same company made a generic newspaper that gained some fame for reappearing in different series and movies: Link 1Link 2.

Another possible source of the filler texts is Ellis Props & Graphics.

 

Credits

Thanks to TrekCore, from where we took some of the screen caps.

 


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