Newsgorilla

Sunday, April 11, 2004


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A liberal talk radio network, Al Franken? Well good luck. But of course you know going in that the right-wingers have a big advantage over you: Their listeners can cheer, "Yeah, and Rush Limbaugh was on drugs when he said that!" notes the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 643!

LOOKING BACK. An old editor and an old designer were chatting. The editor said, "I was just thinking about that day in 1994 when you came out of the committee meeting with the new newspaper makeover handbook."
"I remember that day," the designer said, smiling.
"And I looked at the handbook and said 'If we do this horrible thing, our paper will look like a circus poster, we will be overrun with vapid columnists, numbnuts middle managers, yuppie designers and project committees, we will lose readers, and the profession will make us a laughing stock.' "
"Ah yes," the designer said.
"And I furthermore said, 'If you do this, I will throw you down two flights of stairs and drop a typewriter on your head."
"How well I recall," the designer said.
"But you talked me out of it," the old editor said, "by saying that I would be fired, lose my pension and be put in prison for 10 years."
"I remember," the designer reminisced.
"Well, here we are, and I've just seen the Sunday proofs, and I have to admit that I lost that argument."
"But we're friends again," the designer smiled.
"Yes," the old editor said, "but I was just thinking ..."
"Thinking what?" the designer said.
"I was just thinking," the old editor said, "that this is the day I would be getting out of prison."

AIRBRUSHES 'R' US. Donald Brand's tale of a champion dairy cow with the udder airbrushed out reminded John McClelland who professes journalism at Roosevelt U.:
"In the late 1960s, the Hollister family still owned a chain of stuffy weeklies in affluent suburbs. It was a near-monopoly goldmine that now is part Pioneer Press, in turn part of the Hollinger Corp. empire (Chicago Sun-Times branch). Partly because their most populous town was Evanston, world headquarters of the anti-booze Women's Christian Temperance Union, the papers had nothing related to booze. They also had no racy, or even mildly suggestive, clothing, artwork, poses or words. The 'society' pages had a lot of cocktail-party photos, with captions that did not use the word 'cocktail' and with the booze glasses airbrushed out.
"Once they ran a photo of some rich folk, with airbrushed empty hands held up social-drinker style, chatting by the fireplace. Readily visible on the mantel, in all her glory, unretouched, lay a large Playboy-centerfold style picture, nude.
"Sorry, I don't have the photo. Evanston went wet in stages while I was away during the 1970s-80s and now has a thriving, yuppified, resurgent downtown. My wife, Diane Monk, recalls reporting for the late and much-lamented Chicago Daily News the memorable scene of the WCTU lady shrilly informing the city council that it would fry in hell."
Well, the Civic Pride and Public Officials Committee has no doubt that city council members everywhere will find more friends in hell than heaven, where they at last will see the value of a tall cold one.

ALL THE NEWS, ALMOST. "Until at least the 1980s," reports Katie FitzRandolph of OPSEU , "the Museum of Natural History in Regina, Sask, had all the stuffed animals on display neutered. No genitalia at all."
In other news, "A beef producer threatened to sue the Toronto Star in the 1970s when they airbrushed out the equipment of his prize-winning bull. Without the equipment, the bull's days as a sire would be over and the breeder disconsolate."
Yeah, well, not as disconsolate as the bull.

BOOKS OF BONG. www.lulu.com/charley. Go there as soon as you do your homework.

HACKNEY PATROL. Gene Charleton, of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station joins the dismay brigade. "Talking heads and other poohbahs on the political beat routinely over- and misuse the phrase 'a line in the sand' to denote a point past which someone may not pass without consequences.
"This is painful to hear or see, when anyone who has grown up on '13 Days to Glory' knows that when Col. Travis drew the original 'line in the sand,' he was inviting patriotic Texians to step over, not keep back. Worse than amazement at snowmobiles in winter Wisconsin, I say."
Oh indeed. And though the Graphic and Cinematic Traffic Committee hasn't seen the epic yet, we are told that "The Alamo" (April 9 release) at least approaches factual history somewhat closer than John Wayne and Davy Crockett fables did. For one thing, the heroes of Texas liberty, though daring to the end, were told to abandon that useless ruin and if Gen. Santa Anna hadn't shot them, his rival Gen. Sam Houston might have done so for disobeying orders. What a lot of boring movies that would have made.
-- "Wanted to let you know, if you didn't already, that my world famous Banned for Life list has been turned into a blog at
http://tommangan.net/banned/. Your post about the Canadian newsie has been added to the top of the list," says Tom Mangan .
-- "What about 'war-torn?' I just Google Newsed this cliche and found it used for Sudan, Iraq, Rwanda, Uganda, Haiti, and even Taiwan
-- and that was just on the first page of results. It's about time reporters found a new phrase," opines Charles Martin in Seattle . Well indeed, but don't let's leave the copy editors out of the formula. At 7.5, "war-torn" counts better than "South Bronxlike," a profligate 14.

WHAT THE OTHER SIDE IS DOING. Members have enquired whether financeasia.com is trying to start its own Occult Hand Society. See the headline "Misys gives Pecker head job" at http://www.financeasia.com/Articles/06DD9861-F82C-4BFA-96CC2D57EB769A9E.cfm

WHAT KIND OF POLE WAS THAT, PLEASE? Michele D. Baum, flacking for the University of Pittsburgh (Pa.) Medical Center, adds to the body of knowledge on picas and points:
"Your meanderings on points, picas, didots and other measures took me back to my days as a health reporter at the late, lamented Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times. There was a woman who worked in the composing room of our competitor and JOA partner, the Chattanooga Free Press, whose name I can no longer remember. She was Asian, and would often refer to her 'pecker pole.' Newcomers to the composing room were easy to spot by their expressions of surprise and attempts to gulp giggles."

A production of BONG Chief Copyboy Charley Stough, San Antonio Express-News. E-mail bongstuff@yahoo.com.
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