Saturday, August 30, 2008

So long and many thanks
LRC’s Charley Reese is retiring

On how my business has changed:
In 1955, when I started as a reporter, newspaper city rooms were full of tobacco smoke, alcoholics, gluepots, steel rulers, copy pencils and typewriters. There was a lot of profanity and an occasional fistfight. Editors excelled in sarcasm. But they taught me how to write clear sentences.
I never had to deal with typewriters at my job (Deo gratias), and people have always had to go outside to smoke, but am old enough that I learnt to touch-type on godawful manual ones right out of a 1950s office (they were so hard to use I nearly failed the course — now with computers, pure touch-typing with no clunky machine in the way, I’m fine of course) and, at the small-town paper I’ve been with for 11 years, still did literal paste-ups for the first couple of years. I used to know how to use a proportion wheel, which was sort of a slide rule of my trade. No fistfights but a few blessedly un-corporate characters, reporters and editors (some of whom drank) both charming and nasty and usually with something to teach me. The person who gave me my break in the business was a woman originally from Mississippi who’d been a national news reporter in the 1960s (she was acquainted with the astronauts), left for a while to raise her children, then ended up editing small-town weeklies.

Today
Computer keyboards don’t make much noise.
And thanks to the Internet no more constantly ringing telephones.

For all that’s wrong with a big reason for Obama’s SWPL support (not the colour-blindness MLK talked about 45 years ago but an affirmative-action candidacy: ‘we owe them this’... that and many of them are, consciously or not, statist interventionists like he is) of course I agree that it’s
a good sign that a black... can win the nomination of a major party.

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