Testy Copy Editors

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 Post subject: Wooden ships, iron men and rubber type
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2005 3:47 pm
Posts: 4655
Location: New York City
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Before the Daily News was folded, the city rooms of the two papers shared the fourth floor. They had separate but equal facilities, except that the men's room of the Daily News had real bars of soap, and the men's room of the Sun-Times had liquid soap from a dispenser. Office legend explained the real soap was a concession wrung from Marshall Field IV when he bought the Daily News from John S. Knight. The city rooms of the two papers were separated by a glassed-in no-man's-land called the wire room, ruled by copyboys/pot dealers, where Teletypes chattered and printers turned out wirephotos. On either side of the wire room were the copy desks of the two papers, and then the desks of editors and reporters receded into the distance in both directions, until when you got to the far corners there was Royko at the Daily News and me at the Sun-Times.

The city room was a noisy place to work. Typewriters hammered at carbon-copy books that made an impatient slap-slap-slap. Phones rang the way phones used to ring in the movies. Reporters shouted into them. They called out "Boy!" and held up a story and a copykid ran to snatch it and deliver it to an editor. Reporters would shout out questions on deadline. "Quick! Who was governor before Walker?" There were no cubicles, except for Royko's. We worked at desks democratically lined up next to one another, row after row. Ann Landers (actually Eppie Lederer) had an office full of assistants somewhere else in the building but insisted on sitting in the middle of this chaos, next to the TV-radio critic, Paul Molloy. Once Paul was talking on a telephone headset, tilted back in his chair, and fell to the floor and kept on talking. Eppie reached in a file drawer and handed down her pamphlet Drinking Problem? Take This Test of Twenty Questions.

When you went on an interview, you took eight sheets of copy paper, folded them once, and ripped them in half using a pica stick. Then you folded them again. Now you had a notebook of thirty-two pages to slip in your pocket with your ball-point. You had a press card. You were a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. In the 1990s one of my young editors asked if it was really true they allowed reporters to smoke at their desks in the old days. Yes, and drink too, if they could get away with it.
[Roger Ebert, Life Itself, 2011]


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 Post subject: Re: Wooden ships, iron men and rubber type
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:12 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 836
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Nice.


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