Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The News Package

Text Technicians

“One of the things that has been bad for American publishing was the invention of the person called a copy editor, an expert who knows grammar and can spot inconsistencies: a technician of text. Many copy editors are very good at what they do, but the creation of that function has taken away from the principal editor a basic interest in the text. Most editors, with some notable exceptions, have become packagers now, rather than close editors.” 

—John Hersey, (1914-1993), journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, “John Hersey, The Art of Fiction No. 92,” The Paris Review, 1986

Editorial Comment: News packages, shrink-wrapped and styrofoamed, viral and Tweetable.

PeezPix by Ted Pease 


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Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
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“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

1 comment:

  1. Alert WORD recipient and former AP man Joseph Benham offers the following in support of copy editors:

    People with whom I worked in NY insisted that Eddie Gilmore should have shared his Pulitzers with the cable desk. They claimed that the guys on cables turned sloppy stuff into the slick pieces that Pulitzer juries saw. Some of AP's best editors were old Morse operators. I covered a lot of ball games with operators who had begun as newspaper Morse operators or railroad telegraphers. One of them saved me from embarrassment more than once by pointing out something that didn't add up.

    If you worked 4 'til midnight, you probably remember Eddie's; an AP hangout off Sixth avenue. A favorite story of one late-night drinker involved the Hudson River Regatta when it was such a big deal that the wire services and big papers hired special trains to follow it on NY Central tracks that paralleled the river from NY to Albany. Western Union men were on board, and when a writer yelled "Western!," a Western Union man took the copy, rolled it around some large washers and tossed it to the telegrapher at the next station.

    The story told at Eddie's was that AP's star sportswriter finished off his story with a flourish, yelled "Western!" and headed fo the club car for a quick one before they pulled into Grand Central -- only to be handed this message from the editor in NY Sports: "GREAT PIECE STOP BUT WHO WON QUERY STOP"

    Joseph B