Monday, April 22, 2013

And another one...and another one...

An Africanized honey bee thinks about who to kill next.
(See earlier post: Another One Bites the Dust)
  Over the next few centuries I imagine a couple of books will be written about Rupert Murdoch, but I doubt that either of them will mention a clipping that was posted on the bulletin board of the sports department of the New York Post in 1977. The clipping was from the San Antonio Express -- I don't imagine it was the original article but probably was a photocopy -- the Express was the first newspaper in America that Murdoch bought, and Murdoch had recently purchased the Post -- the headline from the San Antonio newspaper blared something to the effect, and I forget the exact wording, about killer bees making their way to America from South America.
   Everybody laughed, this is our new boss? I will say it took ten years or so, but since then Africanized honey bees have claimed their fair share of fatalities north of the border. Thwap! Whew, that was close. I don't know if that sucker was africanized or not, but I didn't want to find out.
   Killer bees aside, I witnessed another what now is probably considered at best a minuscule moment of Murdoch history when one morning in 1978 the "wood" was wheeled through the sports department on its way to the newsroom; "wood" was the term used for front page headlines that were too big to make on a linotype machine so they were engraved in wood, don't ask me, I don't know how the process worked, but this particular wood, in maybe 300 point type, the kind used for Pearl Harbor Bombed or Twin Towers Collapse, announced "Baby Born Without Mother." Wow. This new boss of ours is totally bonkers. Didn't we used to be a newspaper. I'm not quoting exactly, these were just some of the thoughts that were drifting through the sports department. What had happened was that someone had given Murdoch an advance copy of a book about cloning. This was 1978, mind you, maybe even 1977, Dolly the Sheep wasn't even a rung in the ladder of her father's DNA.
   Ironically, while it still hasn't happened and it doesn't justify Murdoch's mangling of journalistic ethics, cloning has come a long way since then.
   Now, back to all the editors and managing editors and executive editors I've worked for over the years. After Paul Sann retired from the New York Post, I have no idea who took his place, since I was blissfully ensconced on the night desk of the sports department and had practically nothing to do with the dayside doings at the Post. I looked it up on the Internet and apparently it was some guy named McKenzie. I'll leave it at that.
   Initially after Murdoch bought the post there was an exodus of talent, including Chuck Slater, I'm not quite sure what his title was but he was probably the night sports editor at the Post since he was my supervisor. After he left, I was awarded the privilege of filling in in the "slot" which was one of the most stressful jobs I've ever tackled; I won't at this point go into the reasons for this. I don't know the exact sequence or the dates, but Ike Gellis retired as the longtime sports editor and was replaced by a Murdoch stooge named Jerry Lisker, actually I kind of liked the guy, and Greg Gallo, the son of the legendary Daily News sports cartoonist Bill Gallo, was brought over from Murdoch's Star to be the assistant sports editor.
   About a year after the initial exodus, when I was training new sports copy editors to back me up in the "slot" and then seeing them promoted ahead of me, I began to wonder what was going on. Then one day Greg Gallo said to me that he wasn't supposed to tell me this, but at a news meeting one morning, Murdoch blew his stack because the sports department missed deadline, and somebody said to him that it was my fault. End of career. That day I called Chuck Slater and asked him if there were any openings at the Daily News. I don't know whether it was a week or two weeks later, but I left the Post and went to work on the sports copy desk at the Daily News.
   This time, however, I did have to go through the application and interview process.
   The person I interviewed with was Bill Brink. I looked him up online the other day and found his obituary from a few years ago and it noted that he was in the Army Air Corps in Italy during World War II. I was like damn, I wish I'd known that, but at the time I wasn't nearly as interested in the history of World War II as I since have become.
   The one thing I remember from the interview is that I told Brink that I loved writing headlines, and that I always admired the headline in the Daily News that said "Ford to City: Drop Dead."
   "I wrote that," he said.
   Damn, I thought, I really wasn't trying to butter the guy up, I had no idea. Anyway, I got the job.

(to be continued)

No comments:

Post a Comment