Friday, February 23, 2018

1909 Bring Back the Blue Pencil

1909 Bring Back the Blue Pencil

See that thing?  That’s a blue pencil, the major trade tool for most news editors from the start of mass production in the 1600s until the dawn of the all computer newsroom. They were and are cheap, plentiful and neutral in color.

And we need to start using them again.  

A common complaint among journalists of almost every medium these days is the death of copy editing.  When they say this they mean editor positions are going unfilled or people have to self edit or upper level management has taken over what little copy editing is done.

But part of the problem is not the human, it’s the machine.

Spell check usually takes care of spelling errors.  Computer grammar checkers are getting almost as persnickety as Miss Edholm, your tenth grade English teacher.  Errors are easier to fix on computers. And faster.

Much faster.

Too much faster.

Ted with the green eyeshade would grab the blue pencil and turn on the light with the green lamp shade and slog through copy at what seemed a snail’s pace, fixing punctuation, questioning word usage, questioning facts he was reading.

His handwriting was no work of art.  Same with most of his ilk. But the next person down the line … a teletype operator or a typesetter or a teleprompter set up technician or a newscaster could read the “work product” of the blue pencil.

No one in a busy newsroom has that kind of time today.  The machinery doesn’t lend itself to contemplation. The corrections column or department or segment has ballooned -- or should have. And the problem can be solved with 14 cents worth of wood and graphite.

--The real “crisis actors” going from town to town are the legislative puppets who collect fame, glory and money from the gun lobby, not a bunch of teenieboppers going from town to town on George Soros’ dime and stirring up trouble.  But the conspiracy theorists who espouse that baloney are right when they say new laws may not solve America’s gun problem. And in doing so, at last, they admit there is a crisis.

--Is it over yet?  The Olympics. Sunday is the last day if we last that long.

--America could easily interfere with the elections in the Neo Soviet Empire, but it would be useless because the final results have already been decided and the news stories prepared for delivery. The real figures don’t matter. The results and 108% voter turnout figures already are set in stone.

“It seems that the only way to get attention today is to organize a march.” --Billy Graham on why his organization had grown so big.

-Paul Krugman’s column today ties gun woes into more general problems in today’s America and is worthy of your attention.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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