Tag Archives: journalism

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.


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Comma police, arrest this man, or, Diary of a Serial Comma

GateHouse — There are a lot of incredibly easy ways to anger people who write for a living: plagiarize their work, create a website of links to their stuff and call it “The Huffington Post” or present them a pie chart illustrating their 20-year income projection, then overlay that with a pie chart illustrating same for whoever the shortstop is on the fourth-place Chicago Cubs.

But if you really want to stick it to a writer, if you really want to jab the proverbial pen in his unproverbial eye (it stings more if it’s unproverbial), say something on Twitter about the serial comma. (For those of you who grew up, say, playing sports, that’s the last comma in a series. It is also known as the Oxford comma, and is frequently beaten up by the other, cooler commas.)

This is what I did last week, very offhandedly, almost unhandedly, after receiving a relatively minor but highly accurate correction from a friend in New York City who primarily plays “jazz music” when he’s not finding himself unusually moved by the grammatical misgivings of dimwit quote-fingers humor writers in states that contain very little jazz at all. 


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_i1xk07o4g]


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Editor and Publisher folds: How to land a cush journalism gig, assuming you already know Eliot Spitzer

Totally stole this from invertedsoapbox.com

GateHouse — I found my first-ever post-college actual real Newspaper Job in the gray back pages of Editor & Publisher, the highly respected and absurdly long-running industry publication that covered newspapers for 108 years — literally 108, as in more than a century, as in the Cubs have won many World Series since it’s been around.

I say “covered” because E&P suddenly folded last week, making it a very visible casualty of the epic and unremitting print-journalism final-half-hour-of-“Braveheart” in one sense, but in another it was nothing more than the newest.

You could, of course, fill books with sweat-drenched tales of the abused, scorched-earth nature of what passes as the current state of journalism, and many people have, except they’re not books, they’re the Internet, which is free and does not require publishers to purchase Donkey Kong barrel-sized monster-rolls of delicious Amazon Rainforest Paper and, as such, some people think it may have a future of some kind.

(OK, full disclosure: Actually, I got my second job out of E&P, but I am quietly fudging details in order to amplify dramatic effect, a tactic which will be a major part of the Future of Journalism, so get used to it, readers in all 52 states.)




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