John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The downward spiral

Yesterday the Lexington Herald-Leader laid off Brian Throckmorton, who oversaw the copy desk. Mr. Throckmorton, an amiable colleague, is an energetic editor with good ideas and high standards. I have watched him conduct workshops on editing in mute admiration.

His departure is one more depressing instance of the purge of talent and ability taking place at the nation’s newspapers, and the consequences for those papers will not be good.

For an example of those consequences: The City/Region section of today’s Herald-Leader proclaims that it is published on Thurday, Septmeber 24.

No doubt many other marks of excellence can be discovered therein.

7 comments:

  1. Reminds me of the NYT in the early days of computerized typesetting, when we were always reading of the jjuvenile jjustice system. Someone's keyboard was inadequately debounced, it seems.

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  2. Grrrrrr, another great copy desk chief is voted off the island. Loved his headline sessions at ACES.

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  3. After I attended Brian's headline session one year my chest and stomach hurt from laughing so hard. At one point during the session I nearly fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard. I've taught several editors what I call the "Throckmorton matrix" for writing headlines.

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  4. I too enjoyed Brian's headline session at ACES. This is just all to depressing.

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  5. Headline: Herald-Leader leaders join those heals at The Sun

    If you don't get it, see previous post here: http://johnemcintyre.blogspot.com/2009/09/leafiness.html

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  6. My great-grandfather was a gas streetlamp lighter for years, employed by the City of Baltimore along Mount Royal Avenue way back when North Avenue was the northernmost city limit. Today, a hundred years in their future, we have no more gas streetlamps, and thus, of course, no more gas streetlamp lighters. In our future, people will speak of journalists and printed-word editors in the same way. They, along with paperboys, compositors, engravers, printers, tailors, stationers, telephone operators, elevator operators, secretaries, meter readers, gas station attendants (except in New Jersey), toll takers, TV repairmen, and the practitioners of a hundred other vanished occupations will seem quaint and low tech. The bloggers will marvel that anyone was ever able to do such things for a living. It's not a matter of a genii escaping a bottle and needing to be replaced; it's the result of the inexorable march of "progress" fueled by the urge to profit.

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  7. Anonymous the Elder: I disagree. Newspapers will reinvent themselves. We need watchdogs. We'll just call them by a new name.

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