‘The Last Copy Editor’

• Editor’s note: I first saw this Peloton story at NPR, and then went straight to AP to see if the original was this fucked up (it was). Buried the lede. (Who gives a shit about a hapless CEO lateraled over to a cushy gig elsewhere?) Confused “there” for “their” and “its” for “it’s.” It took two people to write this dreck and at least two more to put it online. When the nuts and bolts are this bad, one fears for the solidity of the “content.”

I should pitch a movie, “The Last Copy Editor,” about a tireless comma-chaser, usage Nazi, and AP-style maven who fights tooth and nail against the corporate vultures turning journalism into bung fodder.

I see either Jason Statham or Bruce Willis playing me in the title role, maybe John Goodman as the evil hatchet man from Corporate.

Issa Rae as the sharp young reporter who joins me in my quest for editorial excellence. Bill Burr as the comically inept city editor always hitting on her. Edward James Olmos as the burned-out slot man whose copy of “The Elements of Style” is actually an ingeniously contrived flask of bottom-shelf vodka.

Bill Hader as the online editor, a jagoff whose first language is jargon. Stephen Root as the clueless hack who frequently misspells his own byline and always waits until 30 seconds before deadline to file. Natasha Lyonne as the wisecracking dyslexic photographer who says writing captions is not part of her job description.

And as always, Jerry Mathers as “The Beaver.”

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19 Responses to “‘The Last Copy Editor’”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Here is my suggested list of players:
    Hugh Jackman for Patrick O’Grady,
    Tom Hiddleston for corporate hatchet man,
    Leonie Benesch as the sharp young reporter,
    Bill Burr (for sure) as the city editor,
    Donald Glover as the slot man,
    Scarlett Johannson as the online editor,
    Ryan Renyolds as the clueless hack,
    and Magaret Cho as the photographer.

    Pending your approval of course, since you you are the screen writer and executive producer.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We might have to ask a few people to read for these parts. Jackman has the attitude, but lacks my manly beauty. And I like Donald Glover, but I’m not sure he has enough lines in his face (or lesions on his liver) to play a slot man.

      Hiddleston would be a great hatchet man, though. And Cho a shooter. I went with Stephen Root for the scribe because his Milton character from “Office Space” is a mirror image of this dude I worked with once.

      As for Leonie, can there be two gingers in one film? Burr is a must-have and I don’t want to get canceled.

      • Herb from Michigan Says:

        Uh oh….better get the red pen out. “As for Leonie, can their be” …….

      • SAO' Says:

        Siri has started incorrectly autocorrecting a bunch of words that it used to unfailingly get right. Different problem than guessing the wrong word. The two that stand out are not capitalizing Colorado and Nevada.

        This has been a problem with Google/Android forever, because their algorithms have always favored popularity and crowd-sourcing over gate keeping and elitism. But, ya know, sinew times there’s a right answer.

        It was at least 20 years ago that ESPN talking heads decided that “drop a dime“ should mean “make a good pass.” I sort of filed that under “who gives a shit about ex-jocks?” I mean, how much damage can they do?

        But we are in a weird place with social media and important decisions being made in the cloud. And the more we tweet and text, the less influence our seventh grade English teachers have.

        In factor in that 50% of our two party system embraces idiocracy.

  2. JD Says:

    PO’G: I’ve always wondered how one earns the prestige and privilege (and bigger paycheck?) of getting your own byline for writing a newspaper article. Hopefully “byline” is the right term: E.g. A sports article about the World Series, but the referral to page X where it continues is “See Anderson p4”.
    Tenure? Seniority? Skill? Awards? Other?
    It seems like a very hierarchical and seniority-laden system.
    Amirite? Amirong? Other?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      JD, a byline is just what it sounds like: a “line” that tells you who the story is “by.” They move it all over the place these days, but it used to be right under the hed (headline), above the lede (first graf of the story). As in:

      O’Grady Named Editor-in-Chief of The New York Times
      By Philbert Desanex

      ALBUQUERQUE — In an appalling lapse of judgment that media experts unanimously agreed sounded the death knell for America’s “Paper of Record,” etc.

      Getting a byline used to be a big deal, and maybe it still is at prestige publications, but I’ve seen them tacked onto some truly ridiculous items (like rewritten press releases). I remember writing a lot of anonymous items as a young scribe, and even as a grizzled veterano.

      These days I often wonder whether a byline is intended to keep a reporter on his/her toes. “Hey, don’t call me, call the guy who wrote this mess.” Plenty of pubs have started running the reporter’s email address along with his/her name, some even providing phone numbers and social-media handles.

      Jumplines, like “See O’GRADY, Page Z-987,” are the equivalent of roadside signs (“This Way to the Egress”). They’re intended to get the reader where s/he wants to go as smoothly as possible. And everybody does them differently. If you’re jumping a well-known columnist, like the NYT’s Paul Krugman, you might use “See KRUGMAN, B-4.” If it’s a basic school-board story, you might refer to the jump hed: “See TWAIN’S IDIOTS, D-6.”

  3. Shawn Says:

    If the cast is limited to your illiterate readership, than I volunteer for the clueless hack role. That way and I can still get away with the bung fodder that I eject, constipationally speaking of course.

    That’s a darn shame about Peloton. But at least they kept some folks employed for a while. Apparently they didn’t have the budget for a team to plan out their strategy as the pandemic wound down. But then I suppose some CEO’s prefer to simply get the good, while the gettin’ is good.

    • Pat O{Brien Says:

      Peleton was the latest and greatest must have thingy. Venture capital loved. Then it wasn’t, and the stock fell. Marketing bullshit at it’s best. Think Theranos, the latest example of world class, grade A, and top drawer bullshit being exposed.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Remember when Spin classes were all the rage? I didn’t get it, any more than I get Peloton, Zwift, or any of the rest of the indoor-exercise schemes. I want to be outside.

      I’ll ride a bike on the Cateye trainer if I have absolutely no other option. But since 1983 I’ve lived in places where the winters weren’t vile enough to keep me indoors. I’ve always been able to get out to walk, run, ride, snowshoe, or ski. Unless I was injured — and even sometimes then.

      If the weather is absolutely ridiculous, I might take a day off. But usually whatever it is blows away and boom, I’m back outside the next day.

      Now, Herself doesn’t mind the indoor workouts. She endures regular exercise and yoga classes via Zoom because they slot neatly into her schedule. But she doesn’t pay any membership fees or use any proprietary machinery. And she also goes outdoors for regular runs, even in winter.

      Maybe I’d be more interested if we lived in some major metro, where my options were more limited. But I don’t, so I ain’t.

  4. Herb from Michigan Says:

    Now back to the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter- I’d pen a set of tweezers in his hands. That’s what us real old guys use POG. As Lazlo Hunt says ” now then-ya gots to get a holt of him right off a’fore he turtles. Might be your only shot at it a’fore he starts a drizzlin in your pants. It’s yer call sport, me, I’ma stickin with these here tweezers”

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeh, the tweezers were always part of the original gag: “Wait for it to sneeze so you can grab it with the tweezers.” But in this instance Il Fattini was simply trying to find it, not necessarily do anything with it.

  5. khal spencer Says:

    And in today’s New Mexican: “The FBI and the prosecution in Peltier’s trial have faced accusations from advocates of coercing witnesses and tampering with evidence. ”

    You don’t say?

    • Shawn Says:

      It took a little looking but I found the NM article. Yes, I believe Leonard got the shaft. You’d think after years of Justice department leadership changes where the old guard at the Justice department, biased toward any kind of truth being produced in the matter, that a president would have stepped in and pardoned Mr. Peltier by now. It seems to me I sent Clinton something about that back in the early 90’s. Maybe it’s time I literally put pen to paper again and draft something for one of old Joe’s sub-aide assistant to consider.

      Based on what continues to happen throughout the history of mankind, the first nation people, the one’s who are most happy and so are less likely to be hungry enough to be cutthroat, get conquered, persecuted and assimilated or attempts there of, into oblivion. I’m not confident that things will ever change.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Here’s an opinion piece from The Guardian that’s worth a read. He’s been in prison since I was a young commie in college.

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