Friday, March 10, 2006

Blow it up

This CJR feature on the Philadelphia Inquirer has some gems on the paper's golden years under Gene Roberts' direction, from 1972 to 1990, including the restructuring of the copy desk:
Roberts understood that it was all well and good to talk about changing the culture of the newsroom — “you had to prove that excellence was possible on the paper,” he said — but quite another to impose those changes on people who had grown accustomed to the unfortunate ways of the past. The copy desk was a case in point: Roberts reasoned that adding a new editor or two would be counterproductive in that, human nature being what it is, those new editors would adapt to the desk’s existing culture. So he broke the desk apart, forming two smaller copy desks and on them installing his new people. They, in turn, were given the better stories to edit — the breaking stories and the trend pieces he wanted to see in the paper. As more editors came to the paper, they were assigned to the newly configured copy desks, where they were imbued with the culture of his Inquirer. “We developed a philosophy,” Roberts said, “that we’d zig when the others zagged.”


At 12:13 AM, March 11, 2006, Anonymous Jim Lexa said...

The little bit that you posted made me want to read the entire article. I found it quite interesting.


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