brand anne


Mother of two, living life in small-town South Africa

‘It’s watching them commit suicide that pisses me off’

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Followed a link off Twitter to Steve Smith’s eulogy to the archetypal “newspaperman”. Sigh. Here we go again. Yes, I started off in journalism in the “glory days”. I learnt to type on a typewriter. I know what “spike” and “slug” mean. I hanker after grumpy, know-it-all sub-editors from whom I first learnt that everything is miscellaneous. I too fell in love with newsroom drunkards who called themselves journalists, er, newspapermen. Blah blah blah.
But, echoing Jess Walter’s comment, I am moved to quote US columnist Molly Ivins, who once said: “I don’t so much mind that newspapers are dying, it’s watching them commit suicide that pisses me off.”
Seriously. Get over it. These days there are women in newsrooms. There are even female editors. There are bright young things doing things we only dreamed of. What we think is irrelevant anyway. What is coming next, Steve, is a world for adapters and adopters. Play the new game or find another job. Just ask all those legions of old newspapermen now doing PR…

Added 6 August: In the same vein, but less of a whine and a little closer to my heart really, is Lawrence Downes’s Elegy for Copy Editors. Brian Cubbison responded with five possible exhibits for a copy editors’ wing. I love his suggestion of the ‘Headless body in topless bar’ front page of the New York Post.
I nominate the Sun’s headline, ‘Super Caley go Ballistic, Celtic are Atrocious’, which appeared after a famous upset in the Scottish Cup in 2000. The modern argument goes, of course, that the days of clever, punny headlines are over as we’re all writing for search engines. As the Guardian’s Peter Preston reminded us way back in 2006, computers don’t do jokes.

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