I’m the one to blame for this mess. If you’re a newspaper editor or anybody
else in the news biz you’re apt to find interesting stuff. If you’re a
media critic you might glean insight into the thought processes of a working
newspaperman. If you’re looking for evidence of the International Liberal
Media Conspiracy, welcome: I am a dues-paying member. If you’re one of
my relatives … well, sorry, you did your best but I came out this way
This site is mostly about my work, which at the moment is on the features
copy desk at the San Jose Mercury News, or the Merc as we call it when
we can’t be troubled to type the rest of those characters. The Merc has
nothing to do with the content here, except that having a job there discourages
me from ranting about the folks who pay the rent.
I’ve been in this job for four years, having come to the Bay Area to
witness the high-tech boom, and arriving just in time for the bust. Before
this job I worked for six years doing features design and copy editing
at the Journal Star in Peoria, Illinois, my hometown, a place I moved
away from when I realized that every Peorian who ever became rich and
famous did so after moving somewhere else. My somewhere is a suburb
called Dublin, which is surrounded by lovely rolling hills that will be
continue to be scenic until they build new suburbs on top of them. The
work is well under way.
Before the Peoria gig I spent five years on the news copy desk at the
Tampa Tribune, my first metro daily. The Trib was a nightmare in those
days, but these days people seem to like it much better, from what I hear.
My first job out of school was at the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale,
Ill., home of the main campus of Southern Illinois University, where I
worked on the student paper, the Daily Egyptian, for four years.
I took my first journalism class at Illinois Central College in the spring
of 1984. I was 22 at the time and had no background in news beyond reading
the paper since I was a kid. I had never worked on any school papers or
yearbooks, which, I suspect, gave me a leg up because I didn’t pick up
any bad habits working on the high school paper. My first journalism teacher
was a guy named Mike Foster; he led me to believe I could be a newsman,
which was a nice thing to do considering I hadn’t done worth a damn at
anything I had tried up to that point.
At Southern Illinois University I learned to think, a bit, and to party,
a lot. While working on the campus paper I figured out that I had a peculiar
aptitude for getting pages to the composing room on time, and writing
headlines that fit the space needed. I also figured out that I really
had no stomach for being a reporter. I don’t mind writing or researching,
but doing both in a hurry was too much like work to me.
Over the years people have encouraged me to keep doing this work, which
is remarkable when my newsroom behavior is taken into account. I’m prone
to cussing at my computer and inflicting poorly thought-out rants with
the poor saps who work next to me. One of these co-workers was so patient
that he introduced me to the woman I married. Or maybe he thought of it
as revenge. In any case I came out the winner.
I’ve been an online junkie since about 1990; I created my first webpage
in October of 1996 and started my first blog late in 1998. More on my
blogging background is here.
I try to keep the tone light and civil around here, though I am prone
to bouts of invective now and then. I apologize here to everybody who
has been wrongly slighted by any posts past, present or future. It’s not
personal, it’s just blogging.