Making a list and checking it twice

Written by Burl on January 29th, 2010

It’s “contest time” in the newspaper industry, the time of year when we send in clips of our work from the last year in the hopes of getting recognition of some sort. I’m pretty ambivalent about all that, even though I’ve won a couple, because I had a long stretch when I had an editor who refused to allow me enter any work and simply threw away my clips.
Frankly, I also have trouble remembering stories I’ve written. Once it’s done, it’s done, and I’m focussed on the next thing. I constantly am surprised when, Googling for info, I run across something I’d previously created. Sometimes it’s only a few months old!
So yesterday I spent a couple of hours trying to find links to stories created during 2009. I’m sure I missed a bunch, but what the hell. The list is repeated here, on the page link over to the right. I only included stories with actual bylines, and not the multiple little pieces we’re always cranking out. It’s like shoveling coal into the firebox, filling up a newspaper every day. I notice that the list is also pretty thin in the early part of the year, when I took some time off to attend to family business when my mother died.
The stories are still called “clips” because in the olden days, the only way to save a story was to actually cut it out and stash it in a folder. I’ve still got a few folders from the ’80s. Maybe if I can figure out how to OCR these yellowing clips, I can put up these classics of frankly adolescent journalism.
There’s a former Star-Bulletin writer who worked for the paper for a couple of decades before succumbing to the siren call of the Gannett Advertiser, who meticulously cuts out and glues into scrapbooks every word he writes. I’m talking every word, bylined or not. One-inch briefs. Lists. Stats. Even photo captions. They all get carefully cut out and glued into the scrapbooks, which must fill a library by now. I once cautioned him to use glue-stick instead of rubber cement, as the acids in rubber cement attack the pulp paper used in newsprint, and he got angry and yelled at me that he started using rubber cement in the ’50s and he’s not going to switch now!
I imagine that all those scrapbooks will be fought over by his biographers.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. gigi-hawaii says:

    haha!!! you made me laugh. Yep, I am like your “friend.” Since I was paid a total of $900 for 9 Goddess Speaks columns (before the S-B stopped paying goddesses), I meticulously laminated each column for posterity.

    I laminated columns I wrote for the Advertiser, too.

    Crazy, huh? Well, maybe, generations from now, my descendants will read these columns and say, “Gee, Great-great-great-great grandma was a good writer.”

    I wonder if my books will withstand the test of time.

  2. mutt says:

    I love knowing the names of the people you’re trying to be discreet about. Makes me feel special and insider-y!

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