The Weiner Test For The Professional Copy Editor


GateHouse — There isn’t much glory in being a newspaper copy editor and/or page designer these days. The hours are miserable: You almost always work nights, clocking in at 3 or 4 p.m. and blinkingly re-emerging into the real world around midnight to do your grocery shopping or coping-mechanism drinking — and that’s only if you’re one of the deliriously lucky schmucks who works only on one section and that section is not sports, where you sit alone in a desolate newsroom, accompanied only by the disembodied whirrrrr of deserted aging computers, waiting for the close of a crucial June game involving the Arizona Diamondbacks. If you misplace a comma, or leave a participle dangling someplace it shouldn’t be dangling, someone with a fierce, weirdly passionate grip on the thrilling world of grammar will send you a snarky email, grump about you publicly and probably invent a nickname that’ll stick with you for years. And even if all your modifiers are situated in their appropriate latitudes, chances are solid that you’ll soon see your pay cut, be furloughed or impolitely directed to relocate to a centralized editing mothership in a town the newspaper isn’t in. To enjoy these honors you’re paid almost enough to, if the markets hold, retire at the age of Yoda.

And yet, people do this job! People sign up to do this job, and people go into stomach-churning volumes of student loan debt to do this job! And that is because they are a singular kind of person, a dark kind of person, the kind of person who takes a position for criminally low pay because there might be, on a ghostly, distant evening in the future, a chance that they’ll spend their days writing Weiner headlines for money, and nothing can take that away from them.

Now, if there’s anything left to be done with this Weiner thing I can’t think of it, except of course for that clause. I just don’t know how many other ways to handle this Weiner business, and yes, promise, really done now. Which is good, because I can’t imagine what else anyone could possibly squeeze out of Weiner.


But if you’re a copy editor this week you’re probably being briefly filled with the will to live, because this is the sort of week you DREAM ABOUT, before your dreams return to the ones where you’re being chased down impossibly tall roller-coaster tracks by punctuation marks in clown suits that are carrying machetes, and stop looking at me like that.


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Yet I submit that you do NOT need to be handling the Weiner issue this week to write clever headlines. No, you can do simply by being a pathetic man-child, or a guy who cannot avoid writing about this even though this story is like weeks old now, simply by putting the word Weiner into other headlines which inexplicably do not have the word Weiner in them already! Observe the following, in which I have replaced an important word from an actual Sunday-night headline (I am not updating this to reflect your “updated news,” and yeah, you heard me, Nowitzki), with the word Weiner.

(If you can identify the missing word in each headline, email me and I will send you a pie. Or an equally impressive prize that may or may not be a pie. OK, you know what, scratch the whole pie bit, because that is not happening, because it’s difficult to mail pies, because envelopes are really leaky, but know that if you do it I’ll be totally impressed. Incidentally, this is a great idea. NPR should do a bit like it on one of their game shows.)

  • Lady Weiner’s album suffers  steep drop in sales
  • When facing elimination, LeBron Weiner has big games
  • Taliban denies involvement in Weiner bombings
  • IMF cyber attack aimed to steal insider Weiner
  • Apple’s new operating Weiner to be distributed via download only
  • ‘Super Weiner’ surprises viewers at the box office
  • Kyle Busch’s Weiner fails inspection
  • Eminem sets off musical Weiner at Bonnaroo
  • Stocks down for 6th week, Dow below Weiner
  • Tracy Morgan in trouble for anti-Weiner rant

About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

3 responses to “The Weiner Test For The Professional Copy Editor

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