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You Don't Say
John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.
NewsYou Don't Say

Newsroom sinfonia concertante

Discrimination

Yesterday Jim Romenesko reported that in London The Times is playing a recording of typewriters in its newsroom, an experiment by the editor "to generate some of the excitement of newsrooms." 

It's an idea that has possibilities but is too limited. It could do with some enhancements to its historicity. 

In addition to the pounding of typewriters, you would need to add the sound of paper being rolled in and paper being ripped out of the machines. In addition to typewriters, you would need the wire service teletype machines, with their bells added to their clatter. 

You would need the ringing of telephones, followed by the sound of receivers being slammed down. 

You would need the whoosh of copy being dispatched to the composing room in pneumatic tubes, and the thump of the returning page proofs. 

Not to neglect the vocal dimension, you would need to start out with muttered swearing, rising to shouted swearing as deadline nears. You would also need the occasional punctuation of a foot stamping on the floor to beat out the fire a stray cigarette ash has ignited in a drift of copy paper. 

And the editor pounding on his desk. 

(You might need to appoint a docent to explain some of these sounds to the staff, since every employee over fifty is gone.*)

Then, after deadine, a diminuendo until the only sound is two-finger hunt and peck on a single machine. 

Da Capo al Fine

I cannot, however, guarantee that this composition will exceed the current greatest source of excitement in the newsroom: speculation on who will be laid off next. 

 

 

 

*That is not age discrimination, because age discrimination would be illegal


Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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