Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Who's the boss?

The boss at the small newspaper had a few things he didn't want his writers and editors to do. No names in a headline, unless the subject is famous, of course. Andy Griffith might make a headline, but no one else. His reasoning? "Simpson wins lawsuit" could be a famous football player, an equally famous singer/actress who looks good in tight pants or Joe Simpson, a local plumber. So no names in headlines.

No names to start a story either. Sorry. His thinking seemed to be that stories that started with names were boring. He may have been right, but it sure was hard to write a story that didn't start with a name. Hey, the boss started this story, didn't he?

The boss's other quirk involved first person in column. He hated to see an I in a column. He once counted nearly 50 I's in a column and hit the roof. The next column had no I's, me's or we's, and he was thrilled.

His other quirk? He hated it when you used a name other than a person's name. If you said "the boss" too many times, he hated it. If you said "the writer" too many times, he changed it. Then he blew up.

But the boss was a terrific editor.

Oops! Sorry, boss ... few I's here, but too many bosses.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

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Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

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