Media Carnage Continues as Advertising Plummets: Also, I’m Drinking Tea

27 10 2009


The ongoing discussions of where the horrible, flaming nosedive that has become American media will finally come to ground has put something new in perspective to me today. My (impressive) headline writing skills and command of hedline-ese may be in danger.

This of great concern to me.

My fondest memories of my days (or nights, rather) toiling away in Brat are of Jo and I passing back acronyms, synonyms and various other forms of nyms known only to newspaper night staff in an effort to convey long-winded ideas via 40 point type in 1 column, 3 deks or less. The fun of trying to determine if we could fit the word “whomp” into a front page headline and still be taken seriously (we could, we did, and we were) is impossible to convey to anyone who hasn’t tried.

I can’t help but pine a little over the idea that vast swaths of skills unique to the newspaper industry but so useful elsewhere (as knowledge of Latin or Greek might be to the modern scholar) are on the verge of being lost. Will headline-ese soon be in the same category as churning butter, re-masting a square-rigged ship, or lathing and plastering your own walls?

On one hand, the idea of being one of those people with forgotten skills is cool in a romantic “the old-timers can still do it the real way!” sense. On the other hand, I’m not really interested in becoming an “old-timer” just yet, and I’m equally uninterested in having what was once a marketable skill worthy of compensation become an anachronism.

Will someone please stand up, reveal a spectacular new business model, and give classically trained and technically savvy journalist types like myself something to do with our skills? It took thousands upon thousands of dollars and hours to hone these things, and it would be a terrible waste to throw them away now because we can’t figure out how to pay for them.

Before I forget, as the headline indicates, I am drinking tea. And for those of you wondering, here’s how all of that might wrap into a headline:

Writer drinks tea, waits

Reporter bides time with tea

Journalists consult tea leaves

Some of the latest ideas on where the bottom actually is are here




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