There once was a time when news was not available in the nanosecond it takes to touch a device with a finger. To get the news of the day your major option was to read a printed newspaper. Fortunately, this practice still forms the backbone of the news media. “It is unclear who it was who first said that newspapers form the rough draft of history.”


When radio came along you could also hear the news. The cavalcade was delivered by broadcasters like Walter Winchell, who began his newscasts with: “Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America, from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea. Let’s go to press.”


But what if you wanted to see the news? For that you had to go to your local movie theater and there you could watch the news in sound and pictures. “Newsreels were one of the major news media of the twentieth-century. They were shown in practically every cinema across the globe. When newsreels were at their peak, it was estimated that there were 210 million spectators worldwide attending one of 100,000 cinemas every week, or one tenth of the global population.” The newsreel phenomenon began in the 1910s and lasted until the 1970s. It's now a news media that no longer exists. (


In a tip of the cap to that bygone era, here's a cavalcade of news stories in no particular order – the Neff Zone Newsreel. So, “Good day Mr. and Ms. Northern Michigan, from U.S. 10 to the Big Mac and Lake Michigan to Lake Huron and to all the boats on Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell. Let's go to press.”


Headline: Black Friday predicted to bigger than ever – According to “US retailers, earned $7.9 billion on Black Friday last year. That's a nearly 18 percent increase from the year prior. That doesn't even account for the $6.6 billion earned on Cyber Monday.” (


This year the buying frenzy is on November 23. To see an infographic with an overview of Black Friday predictions, go to:


Headline: Many stores will not open on Thanksgiving – A shopping trend of stores getting a jump on Black Friday by opening on Thanksgiving may be less significant this year. More than sixty retailers have already announced won't open their brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving Day. “Costco, Ikea, Sam’s Club, Home Depot and Lowe's are among the big names on the Thanksgiving closures list.” (


The list continues to grow. To see the latest listing of stores that will be closed on Thanksgiving go to at:


Headline: Top 100 Christmas toys announced – Amazon released its annual Top 100 Toys list that rounds up the must-have items. According to a report in Good Housekeeping, some of the toys that will be in demand this year are: Pomsies Plush Interactive Toys, Scruff-A-Luvs, Watch Ya Mouth Throwdown Edition Card Game, Crayola Color Chemistry Set for Kids, Ozobot Bit Coding Robot, and Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby. See the entire GH list at:


Headline: Drug prices continue to climb – “An Associated Press analysis of brand-name prescription drug prices shows it’s been business as usual for drugmakers. Over the first seven months of the year, there were 96 price hikes for every price cut. This year through the end of July, there were 4,412 brand-name drug price increases and 46 price cuts.” Most citizens are frustrated by this trend. “ Seventy-seven percent of Americans consider U.S. prescription drug costs unreasonable.” See the whole story with graphics at:


Headline: eSports may be coming to your high school – According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association, the possible addition of eSports to high school athletics is being studied. Also being considered are girls wrestling and boys volleyball. MHSAA spokesman John Johnson said: "Obviously the legs that eSports are getting is really going to help guide our discussion during this coming year and probably the next school year to see if there is a fit." (


In order to add a sport, ten percent of the association's membership (64 schools) have to sponsor the activity. See more about this at:


Headline: States cut K-12 capital improvement spending – According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “Many states have imposed large school capital spending cuts, which has meant less money to build new schools, renovate and expand facilities, and equip schools with more modern technologies. States and localities cut capital spending for elementary and secondary schools nationally by nearly $21 billion, or 26 percent, between fiscal years 2008 and 2016.”


The state that has cut the most is Nevada at 81 percent. North Dakota has increase spending by 315 percent. Michigan is nineteenth highest with a 31 percent cut. See a graphic chart at:


The end. The Neff Zone Newsreel is signing off. In the words of the great newsman Edward R. Murrow: “Good night and good luck.”


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and