Thursday, November 22, 2007

Back in the Day

The Arizona Star published this earlier this week, reprinting an article from 1882. Sounds familiar, no?
"That Sad-Looking Man,'' a story from the May 21, 1882, Star tells the story of newspapering from a copy editor's point of view.

Exactly as it appeared in the May 21, 1882 Arizona Daily Star
"Papa, who is that sorrowful, sad-looking man we just met?"
"He is a proof-reader on a morning newspaper, my son.''
"Well, I should think he would be very happy, reading all the news and all the pretty stories. Why does he look so miserable?''
"There's where you're off, my son. Happy, indeed! He has cause to look miserable, I'll tell you. He is an asylum for feeble-minded people who imgine they were sent into the world to enlighten it through the columns of the newspapers. He is a kindergarten for vealy young men and cranky old fellows who think the newspapers would cease to exist should they fail to contribute to its support from their store-house of general knowledge, brilliant ideas and classic lore. He is also a hot house for the propagation of young compositors. He is expected to know the name, nativity date of birth and death of everybody, from a Constable to the President, and all of the officials and dignitaries of the world, especially in Russia, Turkey, China and Japan — which he does not know by a large majority. Some innocent people are under the impression that writers prepare their manuscripts correctly, as the articles appear in the paper. Not so, my son. In many cases, if an article should appear as originally written, the author would refuse to father it and never make another effort. But they must be encouraged, and so their productions are trimmed up in the office and made presentable.

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