Today’s graphic triumph

The inverted pyramid yields pride of place to the “inverted impact pyramid.”




Just asking

The company also dismissed auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in March after identifying material weaknesses in internal controls over its financial reporting.



The company is Tribune, and this sentence was buried in the story about Gannett’s bid for Tribune. Firing the auditor is a big deal. It can mean the auditor screwed up and didn’t find a problem in the client’s books. It also can mean the auditor didn’t screw up and did find a problem in the client’s books, much to the client’s dismay. Any followup?


They grow up so fast

Youngsters learn how journalism works. Then they learn how the business works.

The first day Lincoln Elementary School students clamored anxiously to enter their new class, no one knew what to expect. Writing was inevitable, but what else can there be to journalism?

The Lincoln Elementary Roadrunners may have been unaware of it at first, but since then, they have uncovered the hectic world of journalism and blossomed into their own successful newspaper in almost no time at all.


Starting with the Lincoln Times edition of Mar. 23, the journalists of the Southwest High School newspaper The Talon merged with the Lincoln Times journalists in a combined effort to grow the writers in both programs, while showing how journalism is so much more than a class and career path to pursue.

(Imperial Valley Press)


Headline news

A headline from the Journal’s Feb. 25 front page, “Scalding tirades rule at GOP debate,” was chosen as the “most eloquent” headline of the day, from a group of hundreds written around the country, by the Newseum, an educational and promotional organization with an interactive museum in Washington, D.C.

Admittedly, it wasn’t a classic like “Sun or rain predicted today, dark tonight,” or “Man accused of killing lawyer receives new attorney,” but cheers to my colleagues in the news department; the notice is certainly worthy of a tip of the hat and recognition of a masterful approach to a difficult task. I say that as someone who writes headlines as part of his job, but still finds them to be challenging.

(Mick Scott in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal)

This reader wondered: Does the Newseum hand out daily headline prizes? A Newseum FAQ page says:

How do you decide which newspaper to feature each day?

A portion of the front pages we receive each morning is included in our Front Pages exhibit at the Newseum. However, all of the 800 or more front pages received are included in that day’s online exhibit. If you don’t see a particular newspaper that was previously posted, the newspaper simply may not have submitted that day’s front page, or there may have been a technical problem with the electronic transmission.

What criteria do you use in choosing the Top 10 front pages?

Selections for the Top 10 are at each of the daily editor’s discretion and may focus on headlines, photos, innovative design or something else that elevates the front pages above the rest.

A query to the Newseum drew this response from Sonya Gavankar, manager/public relations:

Thank you for your interest in our Today’s Front Pages. Monday through Friday we write a special article called Today’s Top Ten that curates some of the front pages and selects a theme for the day. We focus on headlines and front page layout.

So … not so much interesting or even eloquent* headlines, but interesting pages (on which, to be sure, headlines play a part).


  • No view is expressed on whether “scalding tirades” is eloquent, or whether the reader takes it for a typo for “scolding.”



Those who work, eat

On Monday, certain reporters at The Denver Post were on the hunt for stories. More stories. Managers at the paper had just announced that editors would be officially measuring the number of items published by investigative journalists and reporters who work on the city desk.

“The expectation is that every reporter will produce at least one story a day, and some of you will be expected to write at least two stories a day,” the paper’s news editor, Larry Ryckman, wrote to staff in a Monday e-mail. He added: “We will maintain our standards when it comes to story selection. We want only stories that are worthy of The Denver Post in print or online. These number targets will not change that.”

The Monday memo itself wasn’t exactly a bombshell. The previous Thursday, many Post reporters had heard about the policy from their immediate supervisors. Blog posts, news briefs, and contributor credits will count toward the target. Lee Ann Colacioppo, the paper’s interim editor, downplayed the move, describing the announcements in an email exchange as simply renewed attention to a “long-standing goal.”

(Columbia Journalism Review)


Wooden ships and not-so-iron men

Some years ago, I wrote a biography of journalist Erwin Knoll, who worked at The Washington Post from 1957 to 1963, under the reign of city editor Ben Gilbert, a legendary tyrant. Gilbert once chewed out a woman reporter so severely for misidentifying a bird in a photo caption that a male colleague who witnessed it threw up. When I interviewed him in 1995, Gilbert told me he would “not quarrel with anyone who said I was too tough.” When I sat with Ben Bradlee, then the paper’s vice-president, and asked him about these mistreated workers, this was his reply: “Poor babies.”

(Milwaukee magazine)


Today’s conundrum

Are you more likely or less likely to look anything up before publishing it, knowing your paper has a corrections column? Discuss.


An obituary on Monday and in some editions on Sunday about the experimental filmmaker and musician Tony Conrad misspelled the surname of the New York Times film critic who praised Mr. Conrad’s film “Coming Attractions.” He is Roger Greenspun, not Greenspan. The obituary in some editions on Sunday misstated the year of Mr. Conrad’s first film, “The Flicker.” It was 1966, not 1965. It also referred incorrectly to Mr. Conrad’s wife, Paige Sarlin. She is his third wife, not his second. And it misstated the year in which Branden W. Joseph’s book “Beyond the Dream Syndicate: Tony Conrad and the Arts After Cage” was published. It was 2008, not 2007.

(New York Times)


Man up!

One Thursday morning, the editor stormed into the newsroom with a freshly printed paper in hand: “Who wrote this &#%!@ headline?” Now this particular editor was one of the most talented journalists I’ve worked with, but he also was one of the most profane, demanding and, at times, downright cruel people I’ve known. Humiliation was one of the sharpest tools in his management toolbox, and as I raised my downcast eyes to the headline in question, my heart stopped.

I was about to be eviscerated.

There in big, bold type, was my work: “Council tables police chef’s funding request.” Police chef, not police chief. I knew I was cooked.

The stress made my voice quiver: “I wrote it,” I squeaked. He turned, narrowed his eyes, and paused. Slowly, a sarcastic smile crept across his face. His eyes locked with mine. “Don’t worry, honey,” he oozed. “Only 30,000 people saw it.” He then threw the paper at me and walked away.

I don’t know how I got through the rest of that workday. That night, I fell apart. The tears started and didn’t stop for three days. I couldn’t believe I’d made such a boneheaded mistake — and in my first month on the job! I even contemplated a career change.

(Crain’s Cleveland Business)

As a wise old editor once told a much younger, much-fretting younger editor: What can they do to you, kid? You’re already on the copy desk.




The good old days

When a copy editor made just under the median income and could afford to build a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Nestled amid 10½ wooded acres on the outskirts of Kirkwood sits a little-known architectural gem designed by a well-known architect. As guests pass through the property’s red gate and across the brick home’s threshold, they are immersed in the epitome of modern architecture. It’s The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park (FLWHEP), and its roots run deep in St. Louis.

Built for artist Russell Kraus and his wife, Ruth, the architectural framework of the 1,900-square-foot house at 120 N. Ballas Road was finished in late 1955, but it would be another decade before its interior was complete. “Russell had long admired Wright’s designs, but did not think he [could] afford one of his houses,” says Jane King Hession, an architectural historian, writer and curator specializing in midcentury modernism. “After reading [a 1948] article in House Beautiful magazine, in which Loren Pope – a copy editor with a ‘salary on the shady side of $3,000’ – described his experience building a Wright-designed Usonian House, Russell was emboldened to write to Wright and request a house.” Five days later, Wright replied, “You shall have your nice little house.” The 10-year journey is detailed in Hession’s recently released book, The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park: The Kraus House, as well as more on Wright’s world-renowned, 70-plus-year career from 1867 to 1959 and how the Kraus house was saved.

(Ladue News)


Just asking

This is what excites me: This is my hometown. I’ve seen it change remarkably in the last 50 years, and I think it is the greatest story in the world. Anything that happens anywhere happens here, only more so. I reject outright any idea that it has become a scrubbed Disneyland. Maybe a few stretches of Manhattan or Brooklyn, but it is still New York and it is still deeply troubled in many places.



Q. Did I imagine it or did I read that you are a champion fencer? Any connection between fencing and editing the Metro section?

A. Hahahaha. You might have read that, for a long time I studied Kendo, which is Japanese fencing. I am actually a second dan — which is roughly equivalent to a second-degree black belt in other martial arts — although my job, my desire to spend time with my family, and my 49-year-old knees and neck have more or less ended my Kendo career. It’s a shame because it was a great joy to me. I played in only one tournament, fighting three matches — I lost one, won one and had a draw. But maybe there is some connection between fighting a duel and coming in to do battle with the news of New York City every day.

(New York Times)


How did the Times miss the story of its own metro editor and his double-knee and neck replacement surgery at age 1?



It just won’t go away





(Johnson City, Tenn., Press)


Today’s bowdlerizing

The first five words of the “School of Law” version form an acronym that has a phonetic resemblance to a vulgarity, a source of amusement for some bloggers and tweeters and a source of non-amusement for George Mason’s administration, which agreed to rename itself after Justice Scalia at the request of an anonymous donor who pledged $20 million.

(Wall Street Journal)

WASHINGTON — Justice Antonin Scalia could be caustic in his dissents, but he was also known for a sharp wit that often drew laughter from Supreme Court audiences.

So perhaps even he would have found humor in the commotion over the new name, announced last week, of George Mason University’s law school — the Antonin Scalia School of Law — which, as snickering observers on social media quickly pointed out, makes for a rather unflattering acronym.

(New York Times)

Almost immediately after George Mason University announced last week that it was changing the name of its law school to the Antonin Scalia School of Law, the pundits pounced: the acronym for the school would be either ASSOL or ASSLAW. Social media erupted.

(Washington Post)


We blame the groundhog

ONE SURE SIGN OF SPRING is the sighting of new entries for The Associated Press Stylebook.

(Columbia Journalism Review)


Uncharted waters

(New York Daily News)

coast of nm


Pronoun puzzler

Bill Green, a journalist and university official who spent one momentous year as ombudsman of The Washington Post, where he conducted an investigation into a story by reporter Janet Cooke about an 8-year-old heroin addict that won a Pulitzer Prize before it was exposed as a fraud, died March 28 at his home in Durham, N.C. He was 91.

(Washington Post)

You’re being too hard on Columbia University and not hard enough on Janet Cooke’s reporting.




Today’s other non sequitur

Unless Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller did something really, really bad.

While Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson filmed their 94th episode of “Elementary,” the CBS detective series, on the Upper East Side in Manhattan on Friday, a real-life homicide mystery took a new turn just one block away.

The case has stymied New York City police detectives for more than a week now, after a 78-year-old man was found dead inhis apartment on the top floor of a prewar apartment building on East 64th Street. The man, Christopher Cooley, was discovered on March 17, seated on a couch, his necktie looped, but not knotted, around his neck, a throw pillow over his face and a broken lamp at his feet, the police said. His hair was matted with blood.

(New York Times)



Today’s non sequitur

“Hamilton” is getting rave reviews on Broadway. And today, Alexander Hamilton would understand Russia’s current fiscal crisis.

(Washington Post)


‘Dangerous’ liaison

Nicholas Kristof, world’s greatest authority (it’s March 2016, but he knows how the election will turn out), leaves important matters to skilled professionals. Read!


Here’s the scariest nightmare for any foreign policy maven. It’s 3 a.m. one morning a year from now. There’s a tense international crisis—maybe with North Korea, maybe in the South China Sea or Ukraine, or perhaps Syria. President Donald Trump is tired, angry, impatient and has his finger (so to speak) on the nuclear trigger. And that vision of Trump as a national security threat is the topic of my column today.Read!
People often ask if I write the headlines for my columns, so let me take you behind the scenes for a moment into the sausage factory. I often suggest headlines — but not very good ones. In this case, I sent in my column with two suggestions: “Donald the Menace” and “Donald Trump, National Security Threat.” The latter wouldn’t fit on the printed page but could have worked digitally. My assistant, Liriel Higa, thought my first suggestion was a little mean to Dennis the Menace, who after all was more annoying than threatening,  but we couldn’t think of anything better. Then Bruce Levine, the copy editor for the column, suggested “Donald the Dangerous,” which we all agreed was preferable — and so that’s what you’re reading! And that photo above is of Bruce, Liriel and me discussing the headline at his work station.


(New York Times)



About time


(Fox News)


And then I stopped reading

The 1980s weren’t all bad. Yes, it was the decade in which bottled water replaced whiskey in our desk drawers and we started writing articles about video games.

(Editor & Publisher)

So it was all bad.