Thursday, February 03, 2011
The arrogance of hitting the big leagues while still twenty-something
"You write too well for us.
"Zippy writers are shat upon at the Globe & Mail."
Well, I must admit the copyeditor knew how to decline the verb "shit."
You've got to pay respect where respect is due.
A big league copy editor, or Slot Man, is a rare specimen in the newsaper business. He is the poet of typography. It is under his supervision that
copy is checked and double checked, the headline produced in a jiffy in the sparse space left by all the ads and photos. He is neither Wordworth nor the Dirty Old Man of poetry but he knows what fits, fits into the designated blank.... Subject, verb, object.
Oh how many poets, thinking they were hot stuff, looking for a creative job--have been shat upon by the Slot man, the poet of typography-- for being too zippy, too creative to be content with the tabula rasa of subject-verb-object when composing a headline. There could be no variations to the rule. Dog Is Bitten by Man. Period. You can't be cute with headlines at the Globe.
Says the Slot Man.
"We back into headlines around here, no matter how strange the even. You go 'Dog Bitten by Man.' If you want to be zippy, go across the street to the SUN."
Ah, the SUN was a honey for zippy headline writing.
Imagine if Dr. Suzuki were to air a documantary about Peoria, Wis., and the rurals didn't like what he had done and the headline writer only had one column inch of white space and four lines down vertically to describe
the rural folks' distaste.
The SUN would prbably do
But not the Globe....Subject, verb, object:
"Peorians unhappy with documentary on rural life."
Ah, backing into headlines.
On the day I got laid off, I suggested they all back up into lighbulbs.
Maybe with a scrappy Twentiish personality like that, It was no wonder.
Well, laterr, as a Toronto SUN man, I was still full or rancor.
I composed a letter to the Globe, each paragraph starting with the letters below:.
Lucky for me, I tore that rant up.
But lookie here: As of this year, The Globe has just taken on a Tabloid format!
"Man Bites Dog."
Well, dog my cat!
Christ, I want back in!
Eve if I look like Yoda now.