This and that

J.K. Rowling assures her fans that all religions (including Judaism) are represented at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, except for the one that involves witchcraft.

These are happy days for Harry Potter fans. Not only are they getting daily snippets of a new Harry Potter “ghost plot” that JK Rowling is unveiling for Advent on her website Pottermore, but the author – always very active on Twitter – has also taken to the social network to confirm that Hogwarts was, or is, a diverse school.

In response to inquiries from her Jewish fans, Rowling clarified last night that there were Jewish students at the wizardry school and revealed the name of one of them, Anthony Goldstein, who was among the original 40 students she created for the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. She also assured fans there would be LGBT students in the school, as well as anyone from any “religion/belief/non-belief system” – except for Wiccans (a reference perhaps to the longrunning debate among American fundamentalists as to whether the saga promoted witchcraft).



This and that

As a 16-year-old girl growing up in western Wales, Naomi Dewey was concerned about one thing: Work.

The daughter of a single, unemployed mother, Dewey landed her first job while still in high school — as a newspaper reporter. She had dreams of changing the world through her words, even if her first assignment was more fun than influential.

The editor, whom Dewey recalls kept a bottle of whiskey hidden in his desk, assigned her to write reviews of restaurants and wine bars. The job was not glamorous. She was not even old enough to drink, after all. Still, the work was enough to stoke the fire inside her to help make make the world a better place.


Every editor I’ve known had one, as a prop to show to interviewers and to grade-school tour groups, or for liquid emotional support. You could always tell the non-drinkers, more numerous in reality than in lore: The bottle was empty or sealed up.


This and that

Bad: Today’s non sequitur. Worse: Via the copy editor.

While the majority of the BU Pre-Law Review (PLR) staff writers do plan to go on to law school, its secretary and copy editor, Ryan Knox (SAR’16), says that all readers, from legal scholars to people whose knowledge of the law is based largely on reruns of Law & Order, will enjoy reading the magazine.

(BU Today, Boston)


The wrath of something





Usage corner





Good news, and maybe Radio Shack will sell a few kits; but unless Ingraham was worried that Admiral Yamamoto’s fleet was lurking nearby, save broke radio silence for the war movies.




This and that

Worth a look, although it’s not “saviors” swooping in but rich ninnies who think they’re William Randolph Pulitzer Bennett Ochs Gannett Munsey Greeley and find, to no one’s surprise, that when you throw enough cash at sellers there’s no need to point a gun as well.





Food fight

I’ve been in the editorial department for 11 years now, first as deputy editor and then as chief editor, and it seems like I’ve been writing about torture on and off that whole time.

Ever since I left the newsroom, I’ve kept a mental list of some particularly choice words that I’ve been able to use in opinion writing that I could never have used in a news article.

Today’s entry on that list was: depravity.

(Andrew Rosenthal, New York Times editorial page editor)


(“Test Yourself: Train Your Gullet for Thanksgiving Overeating,” New York Times)

The Museum of Arts and Design, in Columbus Circle, is presenting a look at the city of Baltimore as it has been captured for the silver screen by five directors who represent a broad range of sensibilities. The series, “It Came From Baltimore: 40 Years of Cinema From the Charm City,” opens on Nov. 21 with “Pink Flamingos,” John Waters’s 1972 study in depravity (characters compete for the title “filthiest person alive”), and ends on March 5, with a screening of “Putty Hill,” a 2010 film by Matthew Porterfield about a group of friends reflecting on the death of a young man.

(ArtsBeat, New York Times)

New York night life is frequently maligned as sluggish and homogenized in comparison with its reckless past, but each September offers an opportunity for redemption. As usual, New York Fashion Week’s homecoming of debutantes and jet-setters coincides with a panoply of new options for depravity, each jostling for the fickle affections of the cool-kid aristocracy.

(Fashion & Style, New York Times)


How to write good

Making sure the facts didn’t get in the way of the opinion. Bonus: If that means torturing a copy editor, so be it.

The release of the Senate report on torture was an odd news event in that it was a) preprogrammed, meaning we knew when it would happen, and b) everyone knew the basic outlines.

The power of the report lay in the details.

Unlike some issues about which we editorialize, there was no need for the editorial board to discuss or debate our position on the report: Our position on torture is well-established. We abhor it, and always have.

We were able to get a head start as the Senate Intelligence Committee staff prepared an extremely good six-page summary of the report. This allowed us to write an editorial last night for publication today.

This morning, we had a staff person check the quotes in the editorial against the six-page memo, and then against the wording in the report. There were minor phrasings, a word here and there, that had to be tweaked so the quotes were accurate. While we were checking the quotes for accuracy, a copy editor worked to get the text of the editorial in final shape for publication, and we talked about what the headline would say.

(New York Times)


Onward and downward

When I became editorial page editor four years ago, I pledged that we would provide readers with a “marketplace of ideas,” where they could browse and decide for themselves what to think.

That idea is based on the famous dissent by the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who wrote that “The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”

Unfortunately, as the Journal Sentinel continues to meet the challenges of an evolving news business, we’ve had to make some hard choices about how much space we can devote to the “marketplace” in our print editions. Starting today, we will publish only one page of commentary Monday through Friday. We will continue to publish four pages in our Crossroads section on Sunday.

(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Thinking is just too darn hard.


Q. and A. o’ the day

Jill Abramson’s mama didn’t raise no fool.

Questions remain about what happened to most of the up to 1.77 million classified documents allegedly taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden.

And former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, who helmed the newspaper when it received a copy of the estimated 200,000 Snowden documents that are known to have been given to journalists, has no idea about the fate of the other classified files.

Abramson discussed the files during a lecture at Columbia University ‘s School of Journalism last week that was part of a series called “Journalism After Snowden.” At the event, Abramson described Snowden as a ”genuine idealist.”

After she spoke, Abramson took questions and Business Insider asked her about the documents that haven’t been accounted for.

“I obviously don’t know,” she said.

(Business Insider)


Always look on the bright side of life

Makes you wonder what a very weak year would look like.

While Cosmo won the battle, it isn’t exactly winning the war. In September, the title logged total single-copy sales of 1.1 million. That means that in the 12 months to September 2014, sales have declined 35.1 percent at the newsstand.

Although Cosmo editor in chief Joanna Coles has referred to the newsstand in previous interviews as “dying,” she told WWD on Monday that the bankruptcy of wholesale distributor Source Home Entertainment over the summer played a role in the decline.

“No doubt the bankruptcy has played into it,” she said, adding that “new fixturing” at Wal-Mart Stores In. has also impacted retail sales of the largest magazines, as well as the “inevitable flight toward the Web.”

Despite those challenges, the editor said the magazine is having a very strong year.

(Women’s Wear Daily)


Fun with no numbers

Can’t tell you, however humbly, what will happen tomorrow, or one year from now, or five minutes from now, or after the horses leave the starting gate; but six years into the future? Piece of cake.

There seems to be a fair amount of consensus that oil prices will recover to $100 or thereabouts by 2020 (excluding your humble narrator), but next year is much more uncertain.



New York Times or Fox News?

Tim Collins emerged from Terminal D at La Guardia Airport on Friday afternoon with even less faith in the judgment of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. than usual.

(The answer.)


This and that



(CUNY Academic Commons)

That would be this new model of political journalism:




Animal crackers




And by “eaten alive,” with or without inverted commas, is meant “not really eaten alive.”






History lesson?

Speaking of editors, after 35 years doing the job, I just learned the root of the word.

It comes from the Latin, and refers to the fellow who put on the games in the coliseum. It might, but didn’t have to, be the Roman emperor. This well-to-do fellow would lead through the streets a procession called the “pompa,” from which some interesting words spring.

Editor. How appropriate. You sit down to work a piece of reporter’s sweated-over copy, his baby, his inspiration, and …

Let the bloodletting begin! Your story, plebian? Thumbs down! It dies on the spike!

We once had an editor here who had a big stamp made for stories he didn’t like. Copy would come back with “GOAT GAGGER” emblazoned on it.

He had another he would use, too, one from the days when bundles of newspapers were distributed to the countryside by rail.

So your would-be Pulitzer winner would be stamped: CAN BE THROWN FROM A MOVING TRAIN.

With him you usually knew where you stood. Like with a fabled editor from up north who would tear up and chew up a story he didn’t like — literally. Me, I never had the stomach for it.

Back when I was a tad more intense, however, I was known as the Samurai assistant city editor, after the John Belushi character on “Saturday Night Live.”

The great E.T. McClanahan once said of the editing process at The Star: “You feel like you’re being nibbled to death by ducks.”

To that I can only say, “Quack!”

(Kansas City Star)


Because I felt like it, that’s why

ALBANY — Apes aren’t us.

In a blow for animal lovers and simian-rights advocates, a five-member state judicial panel unanimously ruled on Thursday that a chimpanzee could not be considered a “legal person” and thus sue for his freedom.

The unusual decision came in response to an unusual legal action brought on behalf of Tommy, an adult chimp who currently lives in a cage in Gloversville, about 50 miles northwest of Albany.

(New York Times)


Because I felt like it, that’s why

Engineers have officially created the world’s fastest 2D camera to date. They’ve developed a device that It can capture events at a staggering 100 billion frames per second, which is orders of magnitude faster than any currently receive-only ultrafast imaging techniques.

(Science World Report)


No, they didn’t

American women gave birth to 3,932,181 babies in 2013 as the nation’s birthrate fell to another record low, federal researchers reported Thursday.

(Los Angeles Times)

A good but unspecified number of non-American women gave birth in the U.S. last year. The CDC report doesn’t go into that. It counts births in the U.S. regardless of the mothers’ immigration status.




Spell check

Have mercy on deskmen everywhere, busy crafting ‘Tis the reason and Yule love this and Claus for concern headlines. Can’t we just make it “Ukraine reports accident at Ukraine nuclear power plant”?