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Monday, August 30, 2004



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For Aug. 31, 2004. Whaddya mean John Kerry took no hostile fire, Swift Boaties? He's taking just as much today, only in the war we called it "fragging," notes the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 652!

BONG STYLE NOTE. By the way, in opinion pieces on U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry's voting record, use "flip-flopper" not "flip flopper."
On reportage of Democrat Zell Miller, keynoting the Republican convention, the same style will apply to avoid the appearance that ol' Zell's speech is flip or that he's in bed where he shouldn't be.

SOCIAL NEWS. A sportswriter found himself engaged to marry his publisher's daughter. One day his fiance's younger sister phoned and asked him to come over to the house to proofread the wedding invitations, whose printer was on a tight deadline.
The prospective groom went, but on arriving found no invitations, only the beautiful little sister. She said, "Since the night you came to pick up Sis on your first date I have wanted you, and now before you marry her is out only chance at one mad romantic fling! I'll be waiting for you in my bedroom."
While the sister slunk upstairs the sportswriter ran to the front door, threw it open and dashed down the front walk to his car – where, to his surprise, he found his prospective father-in-law, the publisher.
"My son!" choked the publisher, tears in his eyes, embracing the young sportswriter. "I'm so delighted that you passed our little test, and for that I want you to know that I will give you and my daughter $1 million as a wedding present!"
Moral of the story: Always keep your condoms in the car.

BUSINESS NOTE. Ron Wolf observes A.H. Belo CEO Robert W. Decherd's $23 million refund to advertisers snookered by phony circulation reports, and Decherd's promise to withhold annual bonuses and 2005 raises to certain Belo managers, including himself.
Says Wolf:
"Let me see if I got this right.
"You lie about your circulation figures for years. You cheat your customers out of $23 million. You lie to shareholders about your circulation in official SEC filings. When you finally get caught, the appropriate penalty is loss of your annual bonus and next year's pay raise.
"If you're a manager at Belo, what do you suppose you have to do to get fired? Detonate weapons of mass destruction at the Dallas autodealers annual convention?
"Meanwhile, an ink-stained wretch in Dechard's newsroom could get sacked for making a $100 campaign contribution. Whadda business."

ALSO FROM RON WOLF. Many years ago, in the early 1970s, Buzz Larsen was the one-man Washington Buro for the Denver Post. Over his desk, he had a photo of a deceased dog laid out in a casket, head resting on a velvet pillow, its little paws crossed on its chest.
Occasionally someone would ask about this strange tableau.
The dog, he explained, had belonged to Miss Helen Bonfils, a third-rate actress and aspiring Broadway producer who had inherited the Denver Post from her father and installed herself as publisher for the next three decades.
The photo, Larsen said, served as a frequent reminder that newspaper publishers are not like the rest of us.

WHAT WOULD SUPERMAN NEED ETHICS FOR, ANYWAY? To write a series on journalism as portrayed in comics for Comics Buyer's Guide, freelance writer Patrick Daniel O'Neill [mailto:PatDOneill@aol.com] queried BONG Center about the Daily Planet's house code of ethics.
Particularly, he asked, should Clark Kent be reporting on the activities of Superman but never reveal that he is in fact Superman, and what about Lois Lane reporting on the Man of Steel too, even after she has married him and knows everything.
The reply didn't make O'Neill's deadline. Well, waste not, want not.
"Patrick:
"Sorry to be late with a response but I'm just coming off 2 weeks vacation and didn't think about journalism for any of it. Your poser is a refreshing cold bath back.
"1. These days yes, Clark's covering himself incognito is a violation of ethics at least as bad as the statehouse guys' use of "As one Capitol wag said,..." and then quoting himself. The depth of the perfidy would depend on the seriousness of the matter being (pseudo)quoted, in inverse proportion ranging from World-Stoppingly Weighty to I Need a Gratuitous but Spiffy Walkoff. We refer to this as the Mike Barnicle Anomaly.
"2. In those heady Vietnam-Watergate times when a copyboy couldn't score a bag of malted milk balls without stepping over three kinds of protesters, Ben Bradlee said of an activist-reporter, 'I don't care if she's fucking elephants, as long as she ain't covering the circus.' It would seem to me Lois is violating that rule as Bradlee never thought possible.
"Hope this helps. Cheers, Charley Stough."

FOR A FAREWELL NOTE AS MUCH FUN AS THIS, WE SHOULDA RUN HIM OFF SOONER. Here is the last onite note from Jim Denery, gone from the San Antonio Express-News to some rag in Green-something, North Carolina.
Jim was the last of what seemed like the whole news staff of SAEN to interview the Chief Copyboy when I was jumping from the Dayton Daily News copy desk. Like, the lady who picks comic strips told me her desktop candy dish was better than the features editor's, whom I also had to meet. I don't recall anything of the interview with Jim except that I finally asked why he, of all people, was interviewing me and he said he had no idea. His farewell note to staff:
"Goodbye, all:
"After seven years, I finally made deadline. We got the State Edition in at 9:05 p.m. I'd make a bigger deal about it, but as I explained to Rob Kaiser a few weeks ago, you'd only be buying trouble for such a display.
"Speaking of displays, I'd like to apologize for getting so choked up Friday. Fact is, I'm pretty much a softy about some things, and even a good McDonald's commercial can send me over the edge.
"I would like to repeat what I mumbled to all of you, though. The Express-News gave me an opportunity to do a lot of things, which helped my career considerably. I'm sure I'm leaving here a much better journalist than when I arrived, and I'm confident the lessons that the Express-News taught me will lead to success where I'm going. With the exception of John MacCormack, I would advise you to seize those opportunities to take on a little more responsibility or try something different. John already has the best job at the paper, so he's in absolutely no need of advice from me.
"So concludes the namby-pamby portion of the night note.
"Naturally, I leave with a few fences to mend.
"If I ever frightened you by kicking a garbage can from one end of the newsroom to the other, I do regret that. However, that thing with the keyboard was purely an accident, and you probably shouldn't be so jumpy.
"Now for the business portion of the night note."
(Business portion of the night note snipped. Go get your own business.)
"Here's a few tips to make things easier here:
"-- Whenever possible, drop a song cue on Craig and see if he bites. Just start a conversation with him by saying, 'You know, Craig, when I took the last train to Clarksville ...' See where it takes you. Then try something more subtle. Also, Craig may subconciously let you in on what's going on in the higher ranks of the newsroom. If he starts singing 'The Times, They are A-Changin',' you better sit up and take notice.
"-- To paraphrase George Costanza's almost father-in-law, cherish Cheeseburger Friday. It was a real morale booster for me. It makes the day a little special, that leaves me all tingly inside, like -- to flat out steal a line from Garth in 'Wayne's World' – 'when you climbed the rope in gym class.' (OK, that sure didn't come out the way I expected. Oh, and if I quoted it wrong, I did try Googling it and got 4,850 results, which in itself is a sad commentary on the state of man or at least a commentary on how long I've been putting off cleaning out my desk.)
"That will have to be it for now.
"As always, Your Humble Rat Bastard."

COMIX SECTION. Speed and Typo went long clearing security at Madison Square Garden but will return in our next dispatch.

A production of BONG Chief Copyboy Charley Stough. E-mail bongstuff@yahoo.com.
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