#693: News of the World

September 30th, 2016

I got a new job. I’m a magazine editor now.

I like it. I like the people. I like the work. I like that when I decide something, it’s done.

But this isn’t about that. It’s about a reel of paper, winding through machines.

My magazine is partnered with an afternoon newspaper for the legal community. You probably know it if you’re a Chicago-area lawyer, probably never will hear of it if you’re not.

My magazine (I get a thrill saying that) and the daily newspaper share a staff, share facilities — the newspaper editor and I even have desks facing each other. I act as a copy editor for the daily when not working on the magazine.

Somehow, silently, secretly, subtly with no planning or forethought on my part, I had become a Chicago newspaperman.

I had longed for that name for years, decades if I’m being honest about my age. I had an interview at the Trib once, stole a piece of construction debris from the old Sun-Times building and had a relatively decent freelance career in magazines, websites and other non-foolscap media. I thought my newspaper days were done, left in suburbia with the rest of my 20s.

It’s the same news on a screen. It’s the same writing, storytelling, research, dedication or just authority-appeasing stenography (for I have no illusions about the landscape) whether it appears on phone or foolscap. Newspapers aren’t magic. I just like them.

But Marc’s a Terrapin, so I’m Perry White for a few.

In English, that means the newspaper editor is going to visit friends back at the University of Maryland and I’m filling in while he’s gone. Within two weeks of starting the job, I skipped my newspaperman days and went straight to editor of a daily.

Just while Marc’s away. I’ll trade my magazine for nothing, by the by. It’s mine.

I put my first issue of the paper to bed yesterday. The senior copy editor shook my hand after I approved the proofs. He said he does that for everyone on their first issue.

The press guys called me right before they set the final plate — I had to sign off on the first copy for ink blotches, etc.

That meant I was there when they started the presses, was in the room when the möbius of foolscap threading through slams of industrial machinery started whirling and whizzing and then turning black and white and read all over Chicago’s legal community.

The foreman handed me an issue just barely dry to review. I flipped through as the last bits of wet ink solidified into the day’s events. Then I wrote my initials — PD — and went back upstairs.

I don’t care what anyone says. Newspapers are magic.

Here’s a newspaper-inspired playlist I came up for your Friday morning

Here’s that John Oliver thing about journalism — you know what I’m talking about

I find this attractive to a weird level

The goodbye party for the Sun-Times photographers

When I lost faith

That time I peed in the Tribune editorial board room bathroom


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