Looks familiar

From the Baltimore Sun:



Because it’s all about us



This and that

How AP’s “read the goddamn book” macro works.









Lofty goal

In November, Randy Olson stopped in at the Bonanza Valley Voice in Brooten to see if he could do some freelance reporting for the weekly newspaper.

A few weeks later, he walked into the same building as the new owner of his hometown, community paper.

He’s also the publisher, editor, photographer, reporter, sales representative and every other position possible.

At 36 — and with a wife and four kids — Olson said he’s found the perfect business and the perfect job in a community he’s “passionate” about.

His goal every week, he said, is to put out a “perfect” newspaper.

(West Central Tribune, Willmar, Minn.)

How hard can that be?



Let’s try again.

GLENS FALLS — Jim Siplon is as passionate about water as John the Baptist.

“I’ve been all over the world. … But one thing that I have found to be absolutely true is the fact that water is essential to any human activity,” said Siplon, chief operating officer of Just Beverages. “It is universal, and there are very few things in the world that are universal.”

(Glens Falls [N.Y]( Post-Star)


Promote that dog!

Editor’s note: This article was written at home by a reporter in London, edited in Manhattan by an editor sitting in bed with his dog, and copy-edited at home by an editor in Brooklyn.



1, 2, 3, ?

Via Romenesko:



Today’s compelling lede

To many people, it might not make much difference.

(New York Times)


It’s all about us

It was Friday afternoon, and I still had no topic for my Sunday column.

Panic time? Close. So I wandered into the office of one of The Pilot’s editors and asked for suggestions.

“Why don’t you pull out one of those columns you have filed away in a drawer and use that?” he asked with a smile.

Truth is, my drawer is empty. Everyone at the paper knows that.


If you really don’t have anything to write, don’t try. Instead, go with “Kerry Dougherty is taking the day off.” If  you do have something to write, find another way to start.


Tin ear

The Fresh Thyme store, filled with a wide assortment of natural, organic foods, is the latest player in a burgeoning grocery corridor that runs about 3.5 miles between Castleton Point Shopping Center and Nora Plaza.

Some analysts and grocery consultants call this stretch of road Ground Zero in the Indianapolis grocery wars.

(Indianapolis Star)

9/11 made “ground zero” obsolete in all uses other than references to the World Trade Center.  Its use here would trouble many. It’s not worth it. Just because “some analysts and grocery consultants” call a shopping strip “ground zero” doesn’t mean you have to report it.


Because I felt like it, that’s why

(CNN)Someday you may tell your grandchildren about the Blizzard of 2015.

The National Weather Service, which isn’t prone to exaggeration, is using terms like “life-threatening” and “historic” to describe the weather system taking aim at the Northeast.

The first big storm of the year may drop up to 3 feet of snow on Boston and New York before it ends Tuesday, with freezing rain and strong wind gusts possibly reaching 55 to 65 mph. Blizzard and winter storm warnings have been issued from Maryland through Maine and into Canada. Up to 58 million people could be put into the deep freeze.


(And a belated hat tip to Mike Jarboe for reminding us that everything that happens everywhere to everyone is potentially “historic.”)


This and that

Someone receives advice from a copy editor, decides it’s good advice and tries to follow it. If that ain’t news, nothing is.

But something happened when I was in pre-publication with my first book. A chance remark by my copy editor made me stop and think about how I was allowing myself to be a “prisoner” of all-day technology, every day.

Mentioning that I was going on vacation over the holidays, I also told her that she could reach me at any time she needed to do so. I would be available through my iPhone, Skype, my laptop, or my tablet 24 hours a day. “It’s no problem,” I said. “Contact me whenever you need me.”

The response, coming from a woman who is excellent at what she does and always goes “above and beyond” for her authors, surprised me: “Oh no,” she replied, “Take time to enjoy yourself. For me vacations are sacrosanct! You need to unplug, Kristen.”

Her advice, though very difficult to do (I literally felt a little bit insecure without my tech lifeline to the world), made sense.

(Huffington Post)


Oh, shut up

Someone overthinks about Dante’s ninth circle.

This is small comfort to a debacle that has been both shameful and injudicious from start to finish. If there is anything good to be had from the entire mess, it is that a slapdash and irresponsible publication has been justly humiliated, and that an incompetent and malicious journalist has been perhaps permanently outcast from the good graces of the Fourth Estate. So far as I can tell, Sabrina Rubin Erdely has not been heard from publicly since last tweeting at the end of November. That is fine by me; indeed, if she finishes out her career as an obscure copy editor at a small-town bi-weekly, I do not think journalism as a whole will be worse off, even if the small-town bi-weekly suffers.

(The Federalist)


Today’s Bartlett’s query

Dear Reader | Death of a colleague leaves hole in our hearts and our journalism

The Sun News is grieving and it’s important that you know why.

A beloved and dedicated member of our newsroom family is gone. Amanda Criswell, just 33 years old, died Wednesday.

You may not know it, but you will miss her too.

Her name won’t be familiar to you, unless you have read and memorized the names of staff members who have won awards from the S.C. Press Association and others. Hers was one of the most-published winners for her eight years of work as one of our premiere designers.

Designers and copyeditors are unsung heroes. Their work is mostly done in anonymity. They don’t get bylines and readers don’t know how much they rely on the abilities of these team members. Mandy, which is how she was known to her family and friends, was as much a part of your everyday news habit as those with familiar bylines.

Her death leaves a hole in our newsroom family, but not just because she was an excellent journalist. She was also the creative heart of our group when it came to having fun. Known as the cupcake queen, she provided needed sweetness to every occasion, and for no occasion at all.

Around Easter, she would don bunny ears and hide candy around our lot for her co-workers to find. When we had to come up with department themes for a company-wide Halloween contest, she was the fount of all the best ideas. One year, at her direction, the newsroom was decked out as Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with many of us in costume as Oompa Loompas.

(Myrtle Beach Online)

Who said (and I’m paraphrasing) It’s just as well we’re not around to read our obits, because it would kill us?



Deadline doings

“We’re not running a weekly here.”

By the time the president finished speaking just after 10 p.m., Julie and I had already begun to rewrite the story for our next deadline, fast approaching at 10:30 p.m. We recast much of the article’s beginning paragraph, adding detail about Mr. Obama’s tone and the reception he was getting. We inserted detail about some of his proposals and noted that he had pointedly not acknowledged the drubbing his party received in November’s midterm elections.

I hit “send” on the story at 10:29, giving my editor, Elisabeth Bumiller, 31 minutes to meet her own 11 p.m. deadline. As the clock ticked closer to midnight, Mr. Kenny and I tweaked a few words, even as copy editors and others in the New York City office urged that we needed to be done.

(New York Times)


This and that

We’re thrilled to announce the debut of Energy and Environment with Chris Mooney, a robust destination for news and sharp analysis about climate change, energy and sustainability issues.

(Washington Post)

1. If starting a blog excites you, what does that say about your emotional maturity?

2. When did Chris Mooney become a destination?

3. What sets “sharp analysis” apart from all other analyses (or, since this is a blog, “blogging”)?


This and that

Another vote in favor of the idiot epicene.

It’s time for saying good-bye, as this is my last day at Vulture. When I started here as an editor almost three years ago, I was genuinely intimidated by the smart, funny people who had carved out this smart, funny space on the internet and felt lucky to have been chosen to work alongside them. Eventually, that feeling of intimidation turned into one of awe and affection. An editor is nothing without their writers, or their photo editors, or their copy editors, or their designers, or their product team, or their developers.


1953, not 1853

After graduating from high school in 1950, Banks played one season for the Monarchs, then spent two years in the Army, returned to the Monarchs, and was sold to the Cubs in September 1953 for $10,000.

(New York Times)

Using “sold ” in this context is fairly common, but we still don’t like it. There are other ways to say this.


Tone deaf

Here’s a shitty headline from NBC News, entirely inappropriate for the subject matter.



Today’s bowdlerizing

Abraham Lincoln probably never envisioned the Internet,* but he wouldn’t have been surprised by the tenor of the average Internet comment board. Among the documents that make up “Lincoln Speaks: Words That Transformed a Nation,” an engrossing new exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum, is a letter not by Lincoln but to him, from a disgruntled Louisianian who signed himself “Pete Muggins.”

Muggins managed to write, in November 1860, a letter that remains unprintable in a family newspaper 155 years later. Suffice it to say that it uses a stronger version of the phrase “gol darn” or variations thereof almost exclusively, so much so that it never does convey what specifically Muggins is so upset about. Presumably Lincoln’s mere election as president opened the virulent floodgates; at this point the guy hadn’t even been sworn in yet.

(New York Times)


* Or … DID HE? (Suitably dramatic music here.) “The First Wired President,” May 12, 2012.