Thursday, November 20, 2008

-30- Rock 'n' Roll

Two years ago on Nov. 30, I created this blog for the Ventura County Star’s Universal Desk. And this Nov. 30, five years after coming to work at The Star, will be my last day as an employee at the paper (My last day in the office is Nov. 21). I and 16 other newsroom colleagues (44 paperwide) have been laid off.

The past five years have been exciting, challenging, fun, hectic, rewarding, frustrating, interesting, tiring, exhilarating – I could go on, but copy editors hate too many adjectives. I’ve worked as a journalist for 27 years and I don’t yet know if my next job will be as a journalist.

To those who remain at The Star: It’s been a pleasure working with you. If I could give a bit of advice, it would be to compliment your colleagues more for jobs well done. Don’t let complaints and criticism be the only things co-workers hear about.

I read an interview with Ted Turner in Time magazine, and he said this: “You can’t always stay in the place where you’d like to be.” (He was referring to his marriage to Jane Fonda, but what the heck.) Anyway, to those who are leaving, my hope for you is that you find a new place where you’d like to be.

Feel free to keep in contact with me (job notices, employment tips, notes of support or just to say hi) by e-mail at patricia (at)

-30- Rock

(Thanks to graphic artist/editorial cartoonist Steve Greenberg for my caricature. Greenberg has been laid off as well.)

Note: I have been allowed to keep this blog up, although nothing else will be added to it after I leave.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All a-Twitter

I came across an interesting post on a site called "The Next Newsroom Project." Chris O'Brien writes about "Ten (small) things you can do right now to reinvent your newsroom." We do a couple of these already, but others are worth considering. I liked the live online chat idea and the idea of everyone being on Facebook, with reporters promoting their stories there. You can read the entire piece here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lighthearted Font Humor

Hello, all. Yes, I know it's been quite some time since I posted anything. I was searching for something positive, uplifting, funny to post. At first, all I could find was gloom and doom: layoffs, buyouts, eliminating an entire copy desk, outsourcing copy editing to India. But I searched some more and I found a hilarious video on fonts. Not sure you can view and hear it from work, but give it a try. It's very funny. See the post below this one.

The Font Funnies

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Where was the copy editor?

Originally uploaded by MarkDM
Mark Dodge Medlin, a former A1 designer at The Star and now on the copy desk at the San Diego Union Tribune, captured this hilarious sign at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We ar not a dyeing brede!

Well, Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post, tongue firmly in cheek (that's the one on his face), thinks the era of the copy editor is gone. He talks about their importance in the old days, back when copy editors worked on the stories of cigar-smoking, fanny-pinching reporters with such names as "Scoop" (not Zeke) who had that card that said "PRESS" stuck in their fedoras. I'll let W. explain his reason for saying "good riddance" to the copy editor. You must read Gene's story carefully from start to finish. (Cartoon by Eric Shansby)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

'Wronged by a Thong?'

I saw a segment on the "Today" show this morning about a woman who is suing Victoria's Secret over a thong she purchased from the store. She says the metal decoration on the undergarment snapped off and injured her eye. The title running at the bottom of the screen was so funny I had to share it.

Wronged by a Thong?

Then I went searching online to see if I could find other headlines for this story. Here are many more:
Dinged by a G-string?
Woman sues Victoria's Secret over a thong 'malfunction'
What a thong and dance: Woman sues Victoria's Secret over G-string injury
Victoria's little secret lawsuit?
Granma injured by a thong! EWWWWWWWWW!
The thong did it

What headlines could you come up with for this story? Send them to me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

'Where's the Section on Copy Editors?'

Earlier this year, the fancy new Newseum opened in Washington, D.C. The Newseum is a tribute to the news industry. The New York Times' Lawrence Downes checked it out. He asked museum employees where the section on newspaper copy editors was. Turns out there was no section on copy editors. In his column, Downes pays tribute to copy editors. Here are a few excerpts:

Besides fixing grammar, punctuation and style and writing headlines and captions, he says, copy editors "also do a lot more. Copy editors are the last set of eyes before yours. They are more powerful than proofreaders. They untangle twisted prose. They are surgeons, removing growths of error and irrelevance; they are minimalist chefs, straining fat. Their goal is to make sure that the day’s work of a newspaper staff becomes an object of lasting beauty and excellence once it hits the presses."

He continues: "The copy editor’s job, to the extent possible under deadline, is to slow down, think things through, do the math and ask the irritating question."

His column talks about the evolving job of the copy editor. His entire column can be read here.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America)

Seeing Red

Now here's a case where such a headline isn't so unrealistic or outlandish.

Friday, June 6, 2008

My "King" Is Leaving Newspapers

OK, so this has nothing to do with our Universal Desk. Instead, it's related to my universe so I felt like sharing it. After 35 years as a newspaper journalist, my husband, George Foulsham, is leaving newspapers for a job at UC Santa Barbara. George is also a big hockey fan (L.A. Kings specifically), and he was asked to write a blog item on his last day at the L.A. Daily News. It appears on the "Inside the Kings with Rich Hammond" blog, and George's item can be found here. (In the photo above, George is in a suite at Staples Center with his great niece, Allison.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Si Se Puede! Yes I Can! -- Leave The Star and Go Hollywood!

We said goodbye to page designer Nick Martinez on Friday. "Mr. Hollywood" is off to Variety, where he'll be a graphic designer. He bragged about how he'll get the opportunity to go to Cannes. (What graphics need to be produced there?)

John Moore told the story about how young Nick would come into his office with his Page 1 designs, which sometimes were a little bit different, and after John expressed some concern about whether the page would work, Nick just stood there ... and stood there, until John would sign off on the idea.

In the photo here, I caught Nick bringing one of his arms down and it looked so much like "Si Se Puede!" I couldn't help but use that as the headline.

Good luck, Nick! We'll miss you. Adios! Power to the Hollywood People!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Female Editor Speaks

I came across a blog called "Editrix." It's self-described as "A blog for editors, editors at heart, and anyone else who thinks grammar is hot."

It has two features I thought you might be interested in. The first is a new one for the site -- "(Least) Favorite Mistake" -- in which editors are asked what their most embarrassing mistake is. One copy editor tells her embarrassing tale when she didn't follow her own advice: that everyone needs an editor -- even an editor. You can read about it here.

The second feature is called "5 Questions With..." in which authors, editors and other journalists are asked the same five questions, such as "What punctuation mark are you fondest of?" and "If you weren't in your current line of work, what would you be doing instead?" You can find a few of the interviews here, and the rest of the interviewees are listed here.

Now it's your turn. Why don't you send me your answer to one of these questions, and I'll publish the responses. The question:

"If you weren't in your current line of work, what would you be doing instead?"

Please send me your responses. Thanks.

Welcome to the Universal Desk, Karen!

We have a new editor on the Universal Desk, Karen Gindick. Here's John's April 14 e-mail:

Subject: Karen Gindick

We are happy to announce that Karen Gindick has joined the newsroom as a copy editor.

Karen comes to us from the Los Angeles Daily News where she has held a number of positions during her tenure, including copy editor, copy desk chief, opinion page editor, wire editor, designer and assistant news editor.

She also taught editing, headline writing and design at USC. We are thrilled to have Karen join our desk.

She started today, so if you get a moment please go by and introduce yourself and welcome her to The Star.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

rich ramirez 1962-2007
Originally uploaded by hellvetica

Martin Gee, a designer at the San Jose Mercury News, writes on his Flickr site: "the last round of layoffs and buyouts really hurt me. i mean, each one does but this one especially. this place feels like a morgue. an abusive relationship. remnants and artifacts everywhere. empty cubicles. empty chairs. abandoned office equipment. goodbye emails. besides looking for a new job, this is a way for me to deal." The way he's dealing is to document the aftermath in images. His Flickr set of photos, called "reduction in force," can be seen here. The photo displayed here is from his set. It shows the empty nameplate for my friend, Rich Ramirez, who took his life a day after finding out his position was being eliminated. Martin adds a note, however, saying he wasn't trying to imply that this news caused Rich to do what he did (read his note with this photo for a full explanation). The photos are pretty dramatic, and having worked there for almost 6 years, I was saddened to see what the place is like now.

Martin's blog is here. Couldn't help but laugh at the photo at the top of his blog.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

We Have Slogans!

I received some great ideas for possible slogans for the Universal Desk. Here they are:

From Tony Sin:
"When news breaks ... We fix it"
"Copy editors kick ass and take names accurately"

From Darrin Peschka:
As a fan of "Project Runway" my first slogan suggestion would be,
"Make it work"

My second would be:
"You're f-in kiddin' me"
Definitely more appropriate but probably not as couth. : )

From Rebecca Whitnall:
This isn’t original, as I saw it on a t-shirt (who knew there were copy editor t-shirts???) but I thought it was cute:
"To infinitives and beyond"

And from Steve Greenberg:
"Three times the work, for the same pay!"
"So much work, so many empty desks"

Which one is your favorite?

Any other ideas?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In Headline Heaven

Some headline writers delighted in the Eliot Spitzer scandal. (Darrin admitted she resisted the urge to use "Mr. Clean" in our headline.) I did a search of A1 headlines of papers in the greater New York area, and here are a few gems:

New York Daily News:
Niagara (Falls) Gazette:
Prostitution scandal may bring down governor
The Record (New Jersey):
'Mr. Clean' soiled
Spitzer in Bergen call-girl scandal
And a favorite, in the New York Post:
On MSNBC, Chris Matthews was interviewing a New York Daily News reporter today. He asked her if she had ever met those "guys in the green eye shades" who write those great tabloid headlines for her paper. He said he assumed they were guys. The reporter said no, she had never met them, but that they had "a rare skill." Guess we should take comfort in the fact that our reporters have met us. And we aren't all old guys wearing green eye shades! 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We Need a Desk Slogan!

ACES member Kathy Schenck, at her blog, Words to the Wise, proposed a contest to pick a slogan for her Milwaukee Journal Sentinel copy desk. Here are some of that copy desk's ideas as well as slogans proposed by others:

"You write it, we right it."
"We delete in serving you."
"It's way too late to fix this."
"To write is human, to edit is divine."
"Nobody knows the garbles we've seen."
"My typo people."
"Word woes loom; betterment eyed."
"Edit free or die."
"It's never banal to be anal."
"The less hed, the better."
"The first cut is the sweetest."
"This chop shop makes a fortune in stolen participles."
"Surgery first, liquid anesthetics later."
"The scene of a brutal slotter."
"My kid can out-edit your honor student."
"We save more butts than ‘Baywatch.'"
Read the rest of her entry here.

Now, what about us? Do you have ideas for a Ventura County Star Universal Desk slogan? Send them to me and I'll post them.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Dynamo Departs

On Wednesday, we said goodbye to News Editor Carole Ferguson, who's heading to Redding (hey, that rhymes) to be managing editor. There were speeches, laughs and lots of stories. Carole displayed a schedule that showed there were 26 people on the Universal Desk when she first started at The Star. With her departure, we are down to 17. Of course, you could say we are down to 14, since she did the work of four people. The desk presented Carole with a lovely parting gift: a basket chock-full of goodies that represent the grand county she is leaving: Ventura County. She received county fair souvenirs, a framed photo, a Star newsrack piggy bank, even a postcard of Camarillo. At the end of the night, Amanda presented Carole with a going-away page.