Remember when we used to have newspapers?

What's the absolute minimum number of people required to copy edit a daily newspaper?

One way to find out, it seems, is to conduct an experiment. Take a functional copy desk and subtract 20 percent of its staff. Look at that — they still managed to somehow get everything read and onto the page. With headlines even.

OK, then, try again. Let's eliminate another 20 percent and toss in some rolling furloughs so that the full complement of remaining personnel is never all there at once. Wow — they still managed to do the job, more or less. Sure there's a noticeable decline in the quality and attention given to the product, but the quality isn't yet declining in a one-to-one ratio with the reduction in staff. And no marked increase in the cost of litigation for libel. Not quite yet, anyway.

So this week the nation's largest newspaper chain pushed its experiment even further. We lost another 25 percent of the remaining skeleton crew on our copy desk yesterday. Good people who were good at their jobs who are now looking for new careers.

This morning our readers received several pages of newsprint covered with words and pictures. It's possible that many of those words were accurate, but I really can't say for sure. ([Woody] I took a speed reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. I think it involves Russia. [/Woody])

The experiment, it seems to me, has reached its conclusion. We now can say, with some confidence, how many copy editors is not enough.

One unintended, but predictable, outcome of this experiment will likely be that some of our remaining readers won't be delighted to learn that they are the first human being — ever — to read some of the sentences put before them and they may, in turn, decide to join the ever-growing fellowship of former newspaper readers. The ensuing decline in readership will, again in turn, suggest to some that there ought to be an additional corresponding reduction in the number of copy editors. Repeat as necessary until finished — it shouldn't be too long.

So it's a frenetic end to a stressful week and what with the extra hours and the survivor's guilt and the frustrated rage that arises from watching good craftsmenpeople and good craft smanship suffer and from seeing the public trust run aground due to the reckless quarterly myopia of irresponsible bean-counters — what with all that, I'm afraid I haven't time today to give Bruce Barnes' sermon the full attention its peculiar awfulness merits. So this week's LBFriday installment will be somewhat abbreviated, but it should be posted shortly.

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  • Jeff, Grand Vizier and Eeeeeeevil Planner-in-Waiting, Ethical Slut, and so on

    lonespark, I have a question about the ending of “Bolt”. After the fire, a doctor tells Penny that her face was sop badly damaged that they had create a whole new one — one so different that the Green-Eyed Man (Flagg?) won’t recognize her. Then they cut away the bandage to reveal — a young woman who looks just like Penny. Not significantly taller, shorter, fatter, thinner or a different ethnicity. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be Penny, especially since the dog acted like Bolt and not like not-Bolt.
    You’ve apparently seen it a few times — what’s your take?

  • lonespark

    Huh? It’s a different actress, cuz the original Penny quit. And it’s a new dog. And Bolt and Penny and Mittens and Rhino live happily ever after on some random farm with Penny’s mom and presumably a buttload of royalties. Also, aliens enter the storyline, so the LA pigeons make it big.

  • lonespark

    a slight implication of frat-boy sleazery
    Good point. I think Joe Lieberman still works fine, though.

  • Lady Jessica of the OStP with Buttercream Rosettes, Matron of Her Imperial Majesty’s Royal Kitchens, and Makener of Cookiez 4 Grate Kitteh

    Ummm, weird guy things that I no longer experience as a woman—
    The weirdness of peeing in one of those communal urinals. Seriously, the thing is like the size of a feed trough at a farm, and like 10 guys stand elbow to elbow and just let ‘er rip. It’s the lack of privacy that always bothered me so. Sadly, whenever I went in a restroom that had one of these abominations uncomfortable apparatuses, I’d usually just go use a stall. So much easier, that.
    __________________
    @Hobbes:
    I agree. I think the government should get out of the marriage business altogether for civil unions. Marriages should be done in churches, everyone gets the same civil union as everyone else. It’s the fact that I can be denied the right to visit my wife in the hospital or whatever other bullshit that pisses me off. Just because I’m a woman now doesn’t make my marriage any less valid when it was performed. We’re still married, and God help the poor bastard who gets in my way if my wife is in the hospital.
    I’m not fully up on the gay propaganda, but the claim is that there are something like 1100 separate rights afforded to hetero couples that are denied to gay ones. I call it propaganda because I haven’t actually verified any of those stats myself. I don’t know what the different rights are, and I also don’t know how many of them are verifiably denied to gay people.

  • http://ksej.livejournal.com Nick Kiddle

    //No offence to your Mum, Nick, but does she perhaps just find it easier to picture annoying bien-pensants than suffering workers?//
    I can’t follow her thought processes without my brain melting, but that does make a lot of sense. Thanks, Kit!

  • hf

    If someone’s ‘being a wanker’, it’s not unlike being a jerk. I think it carries a higher implied stupidity-to-malice ratio, though; someone being a wanker is making an idiot of himself as well as being disagreeable.
    That actually seems pretty close to the way I’ve seen people use the word “douche” or “douchebag”. But I think this derives from the low opinion of frat-boys that people tend to hold in my world.

  • Jeff

    [[It’s a different actress, cuz the original Penny quit. And it’s a new dog.]]
    That’s what I thought, but I’ve asked a couple of other people, and they thought that the “new Penny” looked just like the old one, too. Plus, we saw that not any Bolt-like dog will do, but this one did. Poor editing, and didn’t go with the flow of the movie, I thought.

  • GrossAdmiral Herzog Hawker von Hurricane, etc. etc. etc.

    We used to have a joke, about the difference between a Jerk, a arsehole, and a fool.
    A fool doesn’t know any better. He needs to be educated. Take him aside and tell him privately.
    A arsehole knows better, but thinks it’s needed. He needs a lesson. Publicly prove him wrong.
    A jerk knows better, but thinks it’s fun. He needs to be adjusted. Take a Crescent Hammer to him.

  • Not Really Here , DotF, CoPRatUoT(AC), OoSt.P,wDB

    Jessica, I’m just curious.
    If you’re married, and the person you’re married to is your wife, and you’re a trans woman, what does that make you, nomenclature-wise, to your wife? And will you still be calling her your wife after you’ve, um, had the plumbing fixed?
    Because, really, with same-sex marriage becoming legal in an increasing number of states, countries even (IIRC, they have it in Denmark, and a couple of other Scandanavian coutries), well…
    Usually, if someone refers to the person they’re cohabitating with as their “partner”, I automatically think “same sex”, although increasing numbers of hetero folks who are living together without benefit of wedlock are referring to their, um, partners as their “partners”.
    Will opposite-sexed married couples continue to refer to each other (and be referred to) as “husband” and “wife”, while same-sex MC’s will be referred to as “partner” and “partner”, or will the terms “husband and wife” eventually fall by the wayside in favor of “partner” (except for in really morally conservative circles), and after the couple takes their vows, the priest/minister/rabbi/imam/Elvis impersonator/guy in a Starfleet uniform will say, “I now pronounce you…” what?
    I think this is one linguistic evolution I won’t be able to keep up with.
    I’m so confused.
    It’s probably a good thing I’m a-, so I won’t have to deal with this on a personal level.

  • Ursula L

    “I now pronounce you…”
    I rather like the formulation “I now pronounce you spouses to each other, in the eyes of our community, (and) the State of X, (and our God.)”
    Works for everyone, recognizes the change in social and legal status, as well a spiritual status if appropriate, and it avoids the odiousness of “man and wife” for straight couples (he was a man, and remains a man, but she’s changed to a wife” and of having to figure out a separate formulation for each possible variation of relationship.

  • Not Really Here , DotF, CoPRatUoT(AC), OoSt.P,wDB

    the odiousness of “man and wife” for straight couples (he was a man, and remains a man, but she’s changed to a wife”
    Yeah, I’ve thought for a long time that “man and wife”, rather than “husband and wife” carried with it the connotation that the female half of the couple was something less than a full human being. Although, I could say a few things about the word “husband” in the context of marriage, and its relationship to the word “husbandry”.

  • lonespark

    In my experience, people who are married are husband and wife or husband and husband or wife and wife. Unless they don’t like that, then they can be spouses. I think it should just be spouse on the official forms; much more utilitarian and widely applicable. Pretty much all of the unmarried people I know refer to their significant others as partners. But people whose marriages are only valid in Canada or Massachusetts or Denmark or Kenya use the married terms, as well they should. But then, as I said, in my social circles it’s more often “your man,” and “your woman,” which collapses all those distinctions and works for everyone except poly folk.
    I kind of wish there were better terms for “ex-wife”/”ex-husband” and even “ex-lover” because those don’t make distinctions among the kind of relationship you now have. For some people “ex-whatever” is practically a curse, for others it means “parent of my children whom I still love, just differently,” or even “person I’ll still live with or sleep with but no longer share legal status with.” For similar reasons I wished there was a specific term for married people who are separated.

  • Not Really Here , DotF, CoPRatUoT(AC), OoSt.P,wDB

    and now my head just asploded…

  • Jenny Islander

    ?? That girl was obviously not Penny. Eyes the wrong shape and placed differently, chin pointier, cheekbones different. As for the dog, I figured they accepted that they would never find another Bolt and had most of Bolt’s really cool stunts (rushing at men holding scary sparky things, etc.) copied via CGI.

  • GrossAdmiral Herzog Hawker von Hurricane, etc. etc. etc.

    Although, I could say a few things about the word “husband” in the context of marriage, and its relationship to the word “husbandry”.
    Posted by: Not Really Here
    ————————-
    “He attended college, majoring in Animal Husbandry, until they caught him at it.” – Tom Lehrer

  • Lady Jessica of the OStP with Buttercream Rosettes, Matron of Her Imperial Majesty’s Royal Kitchens, and Makener of Cookiez 4 Grate Kitteh

    @ NRH:
    If you’re married, and the person you’re married to is your wife, and you’re a trans woman, what does that make you, nomenclature-wise, to your wife? And will you still be calling her your wife after you’ve, um, had the plumbing fixed?
    My wife is my wife and always will be. I have no plans to call her anything else. I pass pretty well as a woman, so it weirds people out already when I tell them I’m married to a girl. I had a guy in our pool freaked out last weekend when he found out I had a wife. He was in the middle of doing something, I’m not sure what exactly, possibly correcting me, before his brain realized he was being stupid and that it was in fact, possible, for me to be married to another woman.
    I am whatever my wife feels like calling me. Sometimes I am her husband, a term that is falling into some disfavor because it makes people look at us weird. Sometimes I am her spouse, sometimes I am her partner. The word she uses for it matters less to me than the relationship we have. She may eventually start calling me her wife. I suppose my preference would be to be called her wife, but it’s just not that big a deal to me.