Recalling a tough S.O.B. city editor

sobAfter linking to a piece about “impossible and brilliant” boss Meg Greenfield, I heard from Seattle Times investigative reporter Michael Berens. He wrote:

“Saw your link to the wonderful WaPo opinion story today about a tough editor, Coincidentally, I posted this 1984 mag cover from the Columbus Monthly magazine which voted my first editor, Bernie Karsko, as toughest SOB in town, from the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. I was a police beat reporter at the time.”

On Facebook, Berens described the city editor:

He believed a “special project” should take two hours instead of one. And, yes, he always chomped on an unlit cigar in the newsroom.editor2 He once sent me back to a house fire scene because I didn’t know the name of the dog. I learned never to come back to the newsroom without the name of a pet.

Debra Mason of Religion News Service added in comments: “He made me cry in January 1986 after the Challenger disaster, when I was sent out to get public reaction and I felt like a heel asking people and so I had lousy quotes. First and last time he made me cry, though.”

Berens continued in his email: “With the avalanche of coverage re: Abramsom and the recent eulogies of Arthur Gelb, I think a lot of people are reminiscing about their first or most pivotal editor. Karsko was a trial by fire for a young cub like me. Survive him, survive anything.”

Your toughest editor? Tell us about it in comments, or drop me an email and I’ll post it if you’re not on Facebook.

* “My first editor was voted toughest SOB in town” (

Update: Editor tales from my Facebook friends and subscribers (