Frontier Former Editor

August 16, 2008

The blood red-haired, low-aspect ratio bitch from Wyoming County, West Va.

Filed under: journalism, old times, semi humor — Tags: — Frontier Former Editor @ 11:18 pm

I have to get this one out of my system only because it bubbles up every couple of years or so and makes me sick, hateful and unclean.

In my mercifully brief West Virginia phase in journalism, there was a night desk editor at the paper whom shall be referred to only as M.

M was what one could charitably term as low aspect ratio. In real terms, she was damn near as wide as tall. Her normal choice of leggings or tights gave her the appearance of a two-legged medicine ball. Her hair was the color red one would expect in a dried pool of blood or the spatter on a slaughterhouse wall.

 One might accuse me of being mean, horrible and abusive because of her weight.

In all fairness, my description of her actually mutes my intense disgust, repulsion and almost-hatred of her for her character defects – stupidity, arrogance, vengefulness and mean-spiritedness. M expected reporters to grovel at her feet – which boggled my mind because I couldn’t swear that she’d seen them in several years – or exacted continuing revenge upon and forced tribute from anyone who would dare question her knowledge, sense and news ability.

After I left that particular news organization, she was on duty the night that Nixon died. Her contribution to the next morning’s edition was to put the article on his death on the back page of the A-section, under the weather report.

Before I left, though, she managed to perform many miracles of editorial incompetence. Several favorites of mine included her datelining many of my stories on Virginia localities in West Virginia. But my all-time favorite – and the one that ensured the withering of our tense relationship was the photograph of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

I had accompanied a group of teachers on a field trip to Kennedy Space Center in the summer of 1992 and came back with dozens of decent photos and a pretty snappy feature story. On my return from Florida, I brought back two rolls of developed film, some captioned prints for reference, and instructions to call me at home with any questions.

One of the photos was a Saturn V rocket, stages separated and displayed in front of the center’s main office building and suitably captioned. The photo appeared in the paper a couple of days later with the caption, “Space Shuttle Endeavour, ready for launch.” (Editor’s note. And she might have gotten away with it except for two small details: the rocket was horizontal and dismantled, and there were a number of tourists milling about the rocket’s constituent parts.)

Recriminations flew, tempers flared and relations were arctic. Of course, this should not surprised me given that the paper a decade earlier ran a story about a rather gruesome suicide by shotgun with a hastily proofread headline: “Man Kills Self with Shitgun.” (Editor’s note: M was not at the paper at the time of the suicide headline and, even if she was, didn’t have the subconscious imagination to make such a wonderful fuckup.)

From the day of the ‘shuttle’ photograph, my pet name for M was ‘that fat, stupid, hateful bitch.’

Some time after I left, she finally got fired for excessive mistakes. I’m amazed they caught it as fast as they did. Turns out that she now is a day editor at a community newspaper in the suburbs of Richmond, Va. They certainly got whatever they paid for.

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3 Comments »

  1. I was disappointed by the last paragraph. I was expecting that you finally overcame your differences, fell in love and had been living in a steamy, erotically charged, haze together ever since.

    Comment by Vicus Scurra — August 17, 2008 @ 4:28 am

  2. Vicus,

    Even if our relationship had grown, I doubt that whichever way I oriented her I could have found an unobstructed orifice to ‘put it to her.’

    Thank you for inducing the extra nausea, though. You must have been watching ‘A Clockwork Orange’ beforehand . . .

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — August 17, 2008 @ 7:40 am

  3. Dear God, this woman must have been separated at birth from the last opinion editor I had to suffer during my adventures as an amateur stringer.

    She fainted at the sight of a dependent clause and had the regrettable habit of editing — not proofreading, editing — opinion columnists’ copy, then running it without checking to see if she had changed the meaning, which she inevitably managed to do. Her best trick was editing out jokes that she didn’t get. After having her flat-out refuse to call me about changes, including turning all my prose into choppy little Dick-and-Jane sentences that provoked mocking readers’ letters — which she then published — I made a point of finding the most inconvenient time I could to walk.

    She was later roundly zinged by the DC Metro for insinuating that their employees were thieves:
    http://www.wmata.com/about/met_News/PressReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=2209

    Comment by sledpress — August 17, 2008 @ 7:59 pm


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