Daily Archives: June 1, 2012

Barry Wood (Photo credit: Rockford Register Star)

Rockford Register Star “word guru”/copy editor Barry Wood has been laid off, which means the end of his GateHouse-syndicated “Wood on Words” column. I’m told that his farewell column was posted early to some websites, then pulled when one of the bosses saw it.

I’m wondering if it was this passage that caused the news manager to spike the piece:

The process of fossilization is slow but steady. For me, it was completed recently when the Register Star and its parent company, GateHouse, decided that they could no longer afford to pay me for what I do: editing stories, writing headlines, proofreading pages and writing this weekly column. The modern copy editor has to be able to do more.

Or this one:

Who wouldn’t like to be told after years of blood, sweat and tears that a company is “going in a different direction”? Well, now I’m going in a different direction. I’ve gone through the stages of grief — denial, depression, grumpy, sleepy and happy — and now I’m ready to move on.

I’ve asked Wood and Register Star executive editor Doug Gass for comment.


By Barry Wood
GateHouse News Service

I used to collect fossils. Now I’ve become one.

You may have heard that the newspaper business is changing. I dare say you’ve noticed the effects in this paper.

Readers of this column are about to notice another: These are the last words of Wood on Words.

The process of fossilization is slow but steady. For me, it was completed recently when the Register Star and its parent company, GateHouse, decided that they could no longer afford to pay me for what I do: editing stories, writing headlines, proofreading pages and writing this weekly column. The modern copy editor has to be able to do more.

Officially, I’m being “laid off.” How appropriate that my career is ended with a form of the word “lay.” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to change “laying” to “lying” and make other corrections involving “lay” and “lie.”

By the way, Webster’s definition of “lay off” is “to put (an employee) out of work, especially temporarily” — essentially the same as “furlough.”

However, there is no illusion here: This is permanent. It may make everyone else feel better to say “layoff,” but it feels like a “firing.” To “fire” means “to dismiss from a position; discharge.” In fact, says Webster’s, this use of “fire” is a pun on “discharge.” So both words come from the use of guns.

Throw in “terminate” and “ax,” and you have quite a lethal linguistic arsenal./CONTINUES

Read More

Here’s the New York Newspaper Guild’s fourth video featuring Times journalists appealing for a fair contract. In this one, Dan Wakin, Ralph Blumenthal, Clyde Haberman and John Schwartz “describe their devotion to The Times, question management’s wisdom and demand respect,” says a union memo.

* Earlier: Times journalists urge bosses to settle contract dispute (

Michael Miner

Robert Feder: “As relieved as [media writer Michael] Miner must feel that the Reader will survive and that he still has a job, it has to be galling to be back on the payroll of a newspaper company that fired him in 1978.”

Michael Miner: “Is it galling to return to the employ of a company willing to pay me to bite the hand that feeds me? Not especially. The alternative — there is always an alternative — to dwelling on the pain is to dwell on the absurdity. When you’ve been in your mid-40s as long as I have, you’ve learned it’s the smart way to approach things.” [Miner is 68, according to this profile].

* Galled by the Reader’s sale to the Sun-Times? Not really (Chicago Reader)
* Sun-Times brings Reader into the fold (Time Out Chicago)
* Miner: The bright side to the Reader sale: We continue to exist (Chicago Reader)
* Miner’s history of the Reader (Chicago Reader)

Thanks to Tallahassee lawyer Florence Snyder for this shout-out in the Miami Herald:

These days, the media’s last great watering hole is in cyberspace at There, you can find what’s left of the fact-based community talking shop and saying things that used to go without saying back when journalism was more popular and profitable than it is now.

* In defense of journalism (Miami Herald)

New Orleans musician Evan Christopher told Warren Buffett in a May 25 open letter that “I know you share the world’s admiration for our city’s strong sense of community, and I am hoping that you already have your eye on this situation,” with the Times-Picayune only publishing a print edition three days a week.

“Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of several print newspapers under Media General’s umbrella brought you to my mind as the ideal person to approach about helping prevent this disgraceful embarrassment.”

Buffett has responded to Christopher’s letter:

Dear Evan:

Naturally I’ve been following the Times-Pic situation with interest. I don’t know any of the facts on their profitability but was really surprised when they made the announcement. It seems to me that three days a week is simply unsustainable over the longer term. Either a publication is a newspaper or a periodical and I think three days a week crosses the line.

New Orleans seems to me to be a very strongly defined community and I believe the Times-Pic has high penetration. Therefore, I’m puzzled as to why the economics don’t work on a seven-day basis. But I would have to have the detailed figures to make an analysis.

The one thing I’m quite sure of: It would not work to start a competing paper. I have no insight as to whether the Newhouse family would sell the Times-Pic to a local group. They do not have a history of selling anything. That’s something a member of the community should explore. Let me know if you learn more.


Warren Buffett (non-musician)

* Open letter to Warren Buffett about the Times-Picayune (
* Thank you, Mr. Buffett (
* “Save the Picayune” protest set for June 4 (Gambit)

Here’s Sharon Greenthal’s list, published today by PR Daily:

1. It is what it is | 2. Man cave | 3. Amazing | 4. Baby bump | 5. Awesome | 6. Whatever | 7. Literally | 8. Think outside the box | 9. It’s all good | 10. Process | 11. Just a thought | 12. Virtual


* 12 of this decade’s most irritating words and phrases (PR Daily)
* Earlier: Words journalists use but people never say (

* Spencer Tipping: Why I left Google (
* Ex-employee: The worst thing about Google is Google+ (Gizmodo)

Leila Fadel

Washington Post Cairo correspondent Leila Fadel has resigned to join NPR. “She has left a distinctive mark on our Middle East coverage over the last two-and-half years, first as bureau chief in Iraq and then in Egypt, where her coverage extended to Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Lebanon at the height of the Arab Spring,” says the Post memo announcing her departure.

Read the memo and NPR’s release after the jump. Read More

The Los Angeles Times and many other news outlets recently ran stories about Desmond Hatchett going to court and “pleading with the state of Tennessee to help him pay for child support.”

Desmond Hatchett

The stories said that the 32-year-old man set a Knox County record for his ability to reproduce. “He has 30 children with 11 women,” the Times reported.

“Just one problem — the story’s not true,” reports today’s Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Its story continues:

Stan Briggs, Knox County Juvenile Court child support magistrate, said he hasn’t seen Hatchett since 2009.

Briggs, who remembers Hatchett well, said that’s just the start of the errors.

“I think they spelled Desmond’s name right,” Briggs said Wednesday. “That was it. Basically everything in the (LA Times and WREG) story was incorrect.”

Juvenile Court records show Hatchett has fathered 24 children — still the highest total on record in Knox County but half a dozen short of the progeny credited to him. He hasn’t fathered a single child in the past three years and probably won’t for a while.

The magistrate suspects that a 2009 interview with Hackett that aired on WVLT-TV was circulated as fresh news, with a few children added to the story.

* He’s prolific, but Knoxville dad doesn’t have 30 kids (
* Man who fathered 30 kids with 11 women asks court for child support break (LAT)
* Tennessee man dubbed “Octodad”: Questions and more questions (LAT)
* 2009 TV report: 29-year-old man has 21 babies by 11 women (WVLT)