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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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