Thursday, October 28, 2004

See you in Topeka

This is the cover of the Chicago Tribune's WomanNews section (via Newsdesigner via that caused such a stir this week. And you can see why.

It's been called the last word that offends. And though even "cunt" doesn't make me see red -- what does it take to offend my generation, anyway? -- I could have guessed this would cause a firestorm.

The section editor and the AME for lifestyles approved it, but they never got the OK from higher-ups, it appears. Some people were concerned when the story came up at the 10 a.m., but no one moved to replace the story until 4, when editor Ann Marie Lipinski got wind of it. But by then, the section had been printed and inserted.

So, what do you do? You order employees to help you remove the offending section. In five hours, they almost got them all out. The paper said a "very, very small number might have slipped through." The Wall Street Journal put the number at hundreds of the 500,000 or so printed.

Like I said, I'm not offended by the word. And I'd guess that had it not been for such a provocative headline, this wouldn't have been such a big deal. The story never even uses the word.

Copy editors did raise red flags there, I'd bet. Anyone know?

UPDATE: For a good laugh, read this article on "earlier headlines snatched off the trucks by zealous editors" at Newcity Chicago.

>Chicago Tribune Tries to Stop Publication of Feature Story [Wall Street Journal]
>Four-letter words fly at Tribune's Freedom Center [Chicago Sun-Times]


At 10:13 PM, October 28, 2004, Blogger Bill said...

In my experience, mid-level editors are often shockingly casual about alerting top editors to potential minefields. I bet I'd feel even more strongly about it if I were a top editor.

At 10:20 PM, October 28, 2004, Blogger Nicole said...

I don't understand that philosophy. If you want to push the envelope, fine. But cover your ass first. It's not as if something that big is going to go unnoticed by the glass-office-types after the fact.

It's a different story if you're trying to sneak in a review of the Ass Ponys or a quote with the word "sucks" in it. But "c_nt" in huge type is hard to miss.

At 10:29 PM, October 28, 2004, Blogger Bill said...

I'm so proud: It took me only, oh, 12 minutes to "get" the the title of the post.

At 10:37 PM, October 28, 2004, Blogger Nicole said...

What? If anyone were to lose their jobs in this mess, I hear the Topeka paper is hiring.

At 10:41 PM, October 28, 2004, Blogger Paul said...

If that had come across my desk I would have raised a red flag. If staff refused to boot the matter upstairs, I'd log off and go home. As for de-collating a newspaper - in your dreams, sunshine!

At 10:55 PM, October 28, 2004, Blogger Bill said...

Heh-heh. You said "envelope."

OK, Topeka is to Wichita as:
a. Tucson is to Phoenix.
b. Tulsa is to Oklahoma City.
c. Santa Fe is to Albuquerque.
d. Reno is to Las Vegas.

At 11:19 PM, October 28, 2004, Blogger Nicole said...

Ah, if only Hutchinson started with a T. I think that town is cursed.


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