Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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For June 24, 2004. OK, we have that squared away, Mr. Vice President. Saddam Hussein either did or didn't have a role in 9-11 and either did or did not host Osama bin Laden or his cronies for a strategy session and maybe a dip in the pool, and it's the fault of a lazy press for believing any part of your previous pronouncements that weren't factual. Thanks for the clarifier, says the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 648! And oh by the way, if Ken Lay comes out of talks with the Enron prosecutor with an indictment, is he still on the guest list at that energy conference back in '01?

EDITOR SAVES THE DAY AGAIN. A headline on a Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine article about the Guadalupe River by Joe Nick Patoski: "Guad is Good; Guad is Great."
(A note from the expurgator: In Texas if you don't have two first names already, they issue you another one with your first set of license plates. Sincerely, Charley Bob.)

CLIP AND SAVE. From experience other than as a patient, Jennifer Stevenson offers this advice on when you go to the looney bin: Never, ever, ever get psychotropic medication
prescribed to you, not even outpatient. "Once a doctor gives you these legal mind-altering drugs, they cease to listen to anything that comes out of the patient's mouth. The reasoning is that if you had the sense to know what was good for you, you wouldn't need the drugs," Stevenson declares.
How the conversation with Stevenson came to this point needn't concern anybody.
Stevenson, out of grand Chicago and downstate Illinois newspaper stock including grandpa A.A. Dornfeld, attended a Chicago Press Veterans' luncheon recently at which the panel topic was "When Reporters Lie." And as recent publicity attests, we're not talking expense account and saloon mischief. And they only concerned themselves with reporters, not circulation managers.
"I asked the last question of the day," she said, "'What about when sources lie to reporters? And the reporters know darned well they're lying?' The USA Today publisher was the only one who spoke up, saying, 'It's just as bad.'"
Therefore, kudos to those who did those sidebar pieces back on Page 89-R during the Reagan-walked-on-water orgy.
Stevenson's novel Trash Sex Magic (Small Beer Press) is getting great reviews. And it will be slavishly adored here as well, as soon as our copy arrives. Even more hype:

MEMPHIS'S FINEST. NO, REALLY. FINEST. The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that $2 million worth of cocaine plus 560 pounds of marijuana, 66 guns and lots of cash has disappeared from the police property room. Memphis Police Deputy Director Ray Schwill vowed to shape things up and make the property room a model for those of other police departments. Sounds like it already is.

HIRING STANDARDS. It was the habit of a particularly sadistic newspaper editor to work newly hired cubs to death for three months on ridiculous stories with no hope of publication, sappy interviews of the publisher's golf buddies, and gentle rewrites of flackery submitted by large advertisers. Then at the end of the tryout period, he invited all the rookies into his office for a hair-pulling, back-biting debate with each other before he hired one permanently.
To his surprise, when it came time to hire, only one of the season's rookies showed up in the editor's office. He asked where the others were.
"Well," said the cub, "we discussed how much we wanted the job, and your professionalism, and this newspaper, and then we drew straws."
"Oh, and you won?" the editor asked.
"No," the rookie said, "I lost."

BYLINE STRIKES. Tom Parmenter adds to the body of knowledge on them: "We had a captive union at Chicago's American, basically lagging two years behind whatever the gilded Guild guys at the Field papers were getting paid.
"The only thing of real value in our contract, so far as I could see, was the rule that we did not have to put our bylines on stories. When Harry Romanoff was really spinning it out one of his ridiculous threads, he liked to stick the rewrite man's name on the top of the story, and every once in a while, the rewrite man just had to invoke that union contract and say no."

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