Friday payday: Landlocked no more

The point was that Tex and Gunner knew some frontiersmen working in Prodigy and Gopher and had passed my name along to them. “Just wanted to give you a heads-up warning,” she laughed. “They’ll want to bring you out to the coast to give you the sales pitch.”

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Friday payday: On to the cutting edge

“Actually, it’s something that might interest you. Not a newspaper job exactly, but a new field. We know some people who are looking for good editors for electronic publications. Information that would be available by computer, rather than on paper.” I was about to remind her about my negative experiences with computers, but she jumped ahead of me. “Aw, Bingo, you know how backward Plaid Danny’s system is. You have no idea what’s being developed on the cutting edge. Even in photography and music.”

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Friday payday: Reading pleasure

While my orientation was toward hard news, especially national and world events, I admired what Merry Sherry whipped up for us, day in and day out. Her pages were dessert for our readers and, I suspected, the pages they most enjoyed. Romance and relationships, fashion, food, health and senior citizens, child care, consumer tips and personal finances, entertainment and art, decorating, gardening, pets, travel, science and technology, horoscopes, comics, the regular advice columnists all came under her domain, as did innumerable special sections on everything from new cars to diamonds. They all came to life in the splashy designs Merry Sherry concocted. Most of the time, she was creating honey out of horse shit. Apart from the stories she gleaned from our wire services, she had no resources to speak of – not compared to what was expected. She was putting in seventy to eighty hours a week at the paper. So much for the heart attack. And if she wanted to take a vacation, she had to do all the work ahead. There was no backup.

“That’s no vacation,” Misty growled. “That’s comp time.”

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Friday payday: Weather outlook

Tackett read the forecast. “Slumping mercury today. Tomorrow, no spring to it.” He pushed a button and dispatched the weather.

“Was that the best they could do?” Klondike Cyndi couldn’t believe the National Weather Service.

“Well, actually there was more to it than that,” Downing replied. “They said there was a ten percent chance of snow today. Looks to me like it’s been ten percenting out there for about the past eight hours.” Uh-huh.

“Looks to me like they’ve been ninety-percent wrong, too,” Klondike Cyndi mused. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

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Friday payday: The old ways

She looked around. Not all of the old-timers were inept, of course. It was more a matter of balance.

Dean spent every Saturday in the newsroom, in addition to his usual Monday-through-Friday hours. After forty years, it becomes hard to figure out what else to do with your weekends if you never had them.

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Friday payday: Beware of the natives

“I was talking to a friend at another paper.” Klondike Cyndi stared at her beer. “Time after time, newspapers that want to raise their quality have to bring in a lot of outsiders. As they improve the product, they upset the natives. The outsiders push and push against the ingrained resistance until there’s a huge uproar and the outsiders are thrown out. The locals take over and chip away at the improvements. Everything then goes into a slide until it finally becomes necessary to renew the whole cycle again and call on more outsiders to save the enterprise.”

“I don’t like the sound of that,” Catfish growled.

“Sounds like a fine theory for someone’s doctorate in mass communications,” Fuzzy suggested.

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Friday payday: Bodoni-Bodoni

We had so little time to really get to know each other. So whenever we partied, we wound up “talking shop” – or “Bodoni-Bodoni,” as CeCe aptly called it. Our spouses seldom understood our fascination with the latest political intrigue or office maneuvering. They usually failed to understand that this was the only opportunity we had to compare our all-compelling notes. “Oh, but we teachers do the same thing we when get together,” Fuzzy’s wife said. “We nurses do the same thing whenever we get together,” Catfish’s live-in girlfriend said. So maybe it wasn’t all that extreme. Impassioned was another matter.

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Friday payday: The readership mystery

In the end, nobody really knows why a reader buys one newspaper over another. It’s part longstanding habit. Old loyalties, like a marriage. What they grew up with. Merry Sherry suspected that some people preferred the American-Standard simply because they thought it had more stories. Not that they read any of them, they simply liked the idea that if they wanted to read them, they were there. When we compared the two papers, the Daily Starbud actually had more news, but because fewer stories jumped from one page to another, our appearance was much cleaner. Many people then assumed there was more in the clutter. Sometimes you just can’t win.

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