Thursday, August 21, 2003

Visit the News Gorilla store at . Good stuff in the store this week, and you'll me needing wardrobe like the new T-shirts and tote bags for those summertime leisure moments when the boss is away on vacation!

For Aug. 20, 2003. The Dixie Chicks, noisily banned from shitkicker radio stations, top their genre with $61 million in concerts for the year. Al Franken irritates Fox News, whose lawyers think no writer should be fair and balanced without paying them a royalty, and goes to No. 1 on's inventory. Our path is clear, says the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, this is BONG Bull No. 629, and we wish more airheads would hate us.

AND THEY GET THEIR OWN MAILBOXES, TOO. The Naples (Fla.) Daily News food columnist sues the paper's spiritual advice columnist for more than $1 million, claiming manipulation and armtwisting in the matter of a $95,000 payment from foodie to cardreader.
Need any more be said about columnists and the people who hire them?

YES, WELL, MODERATION IS ALWAYS BEST, WE ALWAYS SAY. The Miami Herald's Gene Miller writes in a reminiscence piece:
"I remember well a telephone tip from a cop about a scandal in January 1960. It seems that James M. Cox, Jr., publisher of The Miami News, the scrappy opposition, kept what was known as 'another woman.' Volatile she was, and she got a snoot full, reached into her purse, pulled out a gun and shot herself dead in Cox's presence.
"I was writing the story on deadline when Charlie Ward, a nervous Nellie news editor, telephoned John S. Knight, the distinguished curmudgeon publisher of The Miami Herald, for advice. No love was lost between the two press lords.
"That's important enough to put on page one," Knight declared. "Above the fold. But not too big a headline. And jump it inside quickly."
Then he paused and added, "Tell the reporter to let it run as long as he likes."

Or, career advice for those who still wonder:
1. The readers haven't really lost interest in breaking news. But at budget time, it's easy to shine by asserting, "What we need is more projects, pets and politics!"
2. Finding facts is only important until 15 minutes before deadline; after that, blame the copy desk.
3. Toppling corrupt officials is OK, but chairing a newsroom committee is the path to stardom.
4. All else being equal, big hair gets the job.
5. It doesn't matter if there is any difference between cement and concrete, and any anal-retentive sub-editor who insists that there is can be gutted at annual evaluation time.
6. Poems by publishers, even dead ones, trump anything up to the Second Coming.
7. In solid-waste-pollution stories, don't even think about newsprint.
8. Publishers sign contracts with unions. Assistant department heads can do what they want.
9. Newsrooms are like families, and can always use more mommies.
10. Electric sex toys require costly batteries. Subordinates don't.

BONG APOLOGIZES. The Chief Copyboy was forced this month into a lengthy absence to help needy medicos pay off their yachts and Cozumel timeshares.
To heal at least our readers' wounds, here's the offer of the year: Make any donation of US$3 or more via PayPal to and receive a genuine personalized Chagrin Falls Commercial Scimitar Foreign Correspondent press card by return snailmail. PayPal is a secure on-line payment system; if you're not already enrolled, use this opportunity to get there and to stun your cubicle mates with glitzy wallet fodder in one easy operation.

A VOLCANO IS A HARD THING TO MISS, BUT IT'S POSSIBLE. "I Don't know about these biglavasplash people," observes Nancy Wick, editor of the University of Washington's University Week, referencing an item in BB628. "Only volcano in America? I don't think so. Ever heard of Mount St. Helen's, erupted May 18, 1980? There are a few other volcanos in the Cascade chain too, though none that have been active lately."
Oh our stars and garters yes, opines BONG's Martini Recipes and Fact Checking Committee. Suggesting that a dormant volcano doesn't count is like saying investigative reporters are extinct just because Singleton buys the paper. BONG regrets the error.

WE'RE THERE. "I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone."
-- Bjarne Stroustrup, computer science professor, designer of C++ programming language (1950- ).

BONG ENDORSES. It's time short, chubby and funny people had a voice in some increasingly irrelevant backwater of government. Elect Gary Coleman governor of California. He's no sillier than the rest of the slate.

PARODY HAPPENS. Lena Olsson of Aftonbladet suggests, "I loooked at that great little commercial The Cog, after reading about it in the BONG Bull No. 628. Do take a look at the silly little commercial film Tyre, at - click the top one to the right."

HEY LENA, YOU AWAKE? Olsson also asks, "Has BONG Bull ever covered the topic lonely dull nights of reporters worldwide? I've heard lots of whining but no one admits to being bored, as our jobs are supposed to be exciting. You know, that boring night watch. Just waiting for something to happen in the area, or for those weird phone calls about UFOs and such, (yes, we have them in Sweden as well), or for the BONG Bull to make a happy noise in your email inbox. But police scanner, telephones and e-mail are all silent."
Gosh, Lena, cheer up. Boring nights, the universal truth that journalism professors so seldom profess, are what made BONG possible. Depending on who is scheduled to work and whether the newsprint storage room is locked, they can be quite romantic. It's back-to-school time, and late nights were made for school-supplies shopping in the newsroom cabinet. And now that Sweden's admirals have parked its navy to save money, you have piracy and smuggling stories to look forward to.
At the Houston (Texas) Post years ago, it was the touching duty of reporters on the onerous Christmas Eve shift to hear the infamously brutal Houston cops key the microphones of their cruisers at midnight one by one, saying to each other, "Merry Christmas . . .(click). . . merry Christmas . . . (click). . . merry Christmas ."
Also at the late, lamented Post, a clockwatching reporter took a postmidnight phone call from a small-town correspondent who wanted to tell about the volunteer fire department's afternoon picnic. The reporter cut him off and went looking for someone of lower caste -- cub, copyboy, janitor, anyone with a pulse -- to take the boring story. No one was there, so the reporter finally picked the phone up again.
"You didn't let me finish," the stringer said. "And after the picnic, at least 325 people were treated for food poisoning . . . ."

THE BEST STUFF IN NEWSPAPERING: LOTS OF CARTOONS, FEW WORDS. Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal~Gazette cartoonist Dan Lynch, sidelined by a 2001 stroke, has compiled "Dirty Little Secrets," a book of his works. It's $19.99 plus $2 for shipping from Pam Pellegrene, ace reviewer, declares, "It's wonderful! Some of his Saddam cartoons from the early '90s could run tomorrow and they'd still work! He's a truly classy act."

CHILI RECEPTION. It was 1977 and Dayton Daily News Managing Editor Arnold Rosenfeld, flush with travel budget, used his column to go to bat for famous Ohio chili. Ohio chili is nothing like that greasy gristle of Texas, he columnized; Ohio chili is made with wax beans!
The press duel against nobody in particular culminated with clerk Mike Kessler going to a Texas chili cook-off, armed with a supply of wax beans.
Speculation in the newsroom was that if he came back at all, he would be wounded, at least psychologically. But to everyone's surprise, Ohio wax-bean chili came back a winner.
Well, it didn't really come back, health regulations and airline carry-on rules being what they were. But it did collect a first-place tie.
When the judges refused to taste it, Kessler held out for a stand-off.

Visit the News Gorilla store at .
BONG Bull is the product of Chief Copyboy Charley Stough, a copy editor at the San Antonio Express News. Email for any reason.