Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild's World-Famous Encyclical
No. 691
Copyright © 2007 by BONG
Reprinted by permission for those needing an RSS Feed.

For June 11, 2007. Anyone going on death watch for the attorney general vote in the Senate today? OK then, we're shutting off the coffee pot, says the Burned-Out Newspapercreatures Guild, and this is BONG Bull No. 691!

SPEAKING OF DEATH WATCHES. They weren't always because someone was dying and the obit was in type. Sometimes it was West Coast games in overtime, school boards discussing where the majorette coach's hand has been, the publisher's daughter's wedding, the final vote count from the cemetery precinct, somebody lost in the swamp.
Death watches sprung from the dogma that we don't hit porches with the butterfly migration project on Page 1 five hours after the jury's verdict, and the broadcast guys are eating our breakfast. Except the publisher's daughter's wedding. The radio sharks ignored those unless there was a shooting or stabbing, and they could usually pick that up on the B wire.
We looked to technology to speed up newsgathering and give us a break from death watches. Whaddya know, the readers bought technology too. That also makes death watches rare. Also readers. Managers observe the WHOGAS rule and go home. There's a question awaiting a newsgathering leader here, but most of them took the buyout.

LET'S VOTE ON IT. Everybody who says the Wall Street Journal should go to Murdoch, take seats over by the bar. Everybody who says the Bancroft family should hold out for the WSJ's journalistic integrity and public service -- hey, hey, settle down, none of that! -- move over by the juke box.
Everybody else, the buffet line is yours.
Ordinarily BONG's Editorial Standards and Martini Recipes Committee wouldn't invoke WHOGAS twice in one edition, but what's to lose sleep over at this point?
WSJ isn't the only paper with fine crews paddling off in the lifeboats. It isn't even the only one with editorial writers confusing themselves with reporters. It is the only paper I know that daily, deep in its second section agate, tells today's price for used restaurant grease and old burlap bags.
Just think of that. Someone dials a number and says something like, "Hey Lou, wassup? What are you giving for grease today? OK, cool. Say hi to Ethel, bye."
And at the end of the day that forager goes home and someone asks, "Hello, dear. What did you do at the paper today?" Bill Hearst answered the same question at his place, hanging his hat on the mahogany coat tree. In fact it's our link to Abraham and Isaac, or at least the palace bureau. The "hello, dears" don't change, whatever Murdoch does at the toy store.

REST IN PEACE, JIM DUNBAR, THE WORLD'S THE GRIMMER FOR YOUR PASSING. Ted Warren of AP Seattle forwarded the (Perth) West Australian's notice, by Len Findlay, of the death of James M. Dunbar, 86. He was "cadet counsellor" for the paper. Over the years he coached many rookies who became major players in print and broadcast, and others who went on to successes in other professions.
In his own youth Mr. Dunbar, an RAF pilot in World War II, was a reporter at Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. He was in the habit of jumping onto fire trucks as they left the station next door, and one day was surprised to ride one to his own home. "I had set fire to nappies that I was drying in front of the fire," said Leslie, his wife.
His instruction took up where school learning left off. He was firm on accuracy, language and fairness, and honored by his former charges. Mr. Dunbar died May 23 and a copy of the West Australian was folded atop his casket. His son Tony laughed that the streamer was "Breastfeeding to be allowed in men's club."

PLUM JOB. Hal Davis hdavis1049@aol.com reports: "This is from Banana Republic, by Kirk Anderson, an op-ed comic that runs weekly in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Speaker is Wally, the supreme commander: "PUT HIM ON THE LIST, TOO, HECTOR. OH, AND DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE PRESS INTERFERING THIS TIME -- THEY CLOSED THEIR GOVT. FRAUD AND ABUSE BUREAU!... NEEDED REPORTERS FOR THEIR EMERGING UPSCALE GARDENING TRENDS

VE HAFF RULES. No coffee pots in news departments. No personal knick-knacks on desks. No saying that no journalist designed this newsroom. This is life at the new Dayton (Ohio) Daily News building, which has abandoned its ancient South Ludlow Street building to stale air and the founder's ghost. But check back on the ghost. He's been quoted in the young editor's column, to the immense surprise of old-time
staffers also cited there.

BOOK REVIEW COLUMN. So you're cutting the book review section, huh,Boss? Bookstores don't advertise? Educators wielding Silas Marner have bludgeoned your young readers into fear and loathing of good writing? If it's not Harry Potter, who cares about new titles?
So deal. Why not report old titles instead? Amazon.com will never think of it, because the books are free, down in the storage dungeons of public libraries.
-- "A couple of wise guys seduce and abuse a country teenager in the big city, but she soars to stardom while her captors go to ruin." That's "Sister Carrie," by Theodore Dreiser, banned in Boston in 1900. The critics wanted victims to pay a steeper price. Meanwhile someone was writing the lesson plan for "Silas Marner," a groaning yawner about a cataleptic weaver. Guess which one's on the final.
-- Speaking of Boston, how about H.L. Mencken's nonfiction chronicle of a long legal fight with censors in 1926, "The Editor, the Bluenose and the Prostitute." It's a lesson in what today's talk-radio yahoos try to do to reportage they don't like, and what gutsy publishers can do in response.
-- Speaking of yahoos, there's Larry McMurtry's "Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen," a memoir that exposes Texas' phony history of hip-shooting loners righting all the wrongs of the world. It goes a long way to explaining how we got neck-deep in an impossible war.
-- How about, "A drug addict invents a marvelous city in caves of ice, but he's so loopy that when someone bangs on his door, he forgets it all." Welcome to "Kublai Khan," a poem by Sam Coleridge and a lesson in sobriety if not call screening. For all the ignorance about poetry that students bring to the world today, there has never been a time when poets made as much money as now, writing song lyrics. This is a market a smart columnist could steal from MTV.

COMIX SECTION. The Further Adventures of Herman "Speed" Graphic, ace photographer for the Chagrin Falls Commercial Scimitar, and his Faithful Companion, Typo the Wonder Pig.
PANEL ONE: Typo rushes into the photo lab, waving plane tickets, as Speed dozes in his trenchcoat, a deathbed gift from an ancient mystic wire service executive editor on a fog-shrouded eastern island. Typo coaxes, "Let's hit it, Boss! Features Editor Hyperba Lee gave us the week's plum assignment, and we're going to Hollywood!"
Speed sputters, "Plum...? Hollywood...?"
PANEL TWO: Typo cheers, tossing socks, underwear and crash helmets into a valise, "Right, Boss! We're on the beat with the paparazzi, Tinseltown boulevardiers, sleazy publicists and vest-pocket psychiatrists who take no prisoners!"
Speed coughs, "Boulewhat...? Publicists...?"
PANEL THREE: Typo grins, "Correctamundo, Boss! Bring your heavyweight lenses, stake-out groceries and eyewash!"
Speed stammers, "Stake-out...? Eyewash...?"
PANEL FOUR: Typo explicates, "That's it exactly, Boss! And Hyperba wants us to distribute copies of her schedule to the other guys surrounding the jail!"
Speed wonders, "Schedule...? Jail...?"
PANEL FIVE: Typo emends, "Just so, Boss! See here, 'Wearing a micro-mini, Hyperba Lee, close friend of every major pop-tart's pool man's hair stylist, will embark and disembark a low-slung sports car outside these famous and exclusive clubs at the following times! Please, no pushing!' How's that for a job, Boss!?"
Alert, Speed declares, "I think I see your thinking, Typo!"
Typo agrees, "Right, Boss, I knew you'd see it before our readers did! With Paris, Lindsay and Britney on their minds, those paparazzi will see Hyperba and we'll make a mint selling them stuff to get their eyes open again!"

BONG Bull is the product of Chief Copyboy Charley Stough in Dayton, Ohio. E-mail bongstuff@yahoo.com for any reason. Or what the hell, for no reason.

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