EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third of a series of odes that chronicle the legacy newsroom. Each is written from different first-person perspective. Together they create the mumbled narrative of a special  and sadly contracting culture. The author, Don Nelson, has been a newsman for almost 50 years.

To see previous poems:

Ode #1, City Editor, Friday night

Ode #2: Reporter on deadline

 

COPY EDITOR, STANDING GUARD

I am the last bastion,

The guardian

Of grammar and syntax,

Spelling and style,

Structure and clarity,

Accuracy and context.

 

No one gives a s**t.

 

I write clever headlines

And efficient captions.

I design attractive pages

With multiple reader entry-points

And effective graphics.

 

I make news judgments

And page assignments

And a hundred other decisions

That will be second-guessed

By people who went home at 4 p.m.

 

Reporters who hate

What I “did” to their stories,

Editors who don’t take responsibility,

Publishers who are terrified of the readers.

 

I used to work for this paper only.

Now I’m processing pages

For papers in other towns in other states

That I don’t know f**k-all about.

 

No one gives a s**t about that either.

 

I’m the last one out of the building

Except for the pressmen

Who push buttons

And color correct

And watch for web breaks.

They don’t read the paper.

 

My name appears nowhere in the paper.

I used to resent that.

Now I think

It’s just as well.

 

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

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