An Editor’s Woe

An Editor’s Woe

Herald Dispatch, December 23, 1965

Written by: Charles Collett

Submitted by: Robert Kingrey

Once when I was running the Ironton news, a banker, who held our notes, said that he had always wanted to be a newspaper editor, and at that time he didn’t know how close he was to getting that job. I told him that I always wanted to be a banker and what I could do in his bank in one week. There is an aroma of fascination about a newspaper that makes many people say they would like to run one or own one. I have often wished some people could try it.

Here are some of the things you would be up against if you tried it for just one week. Explain to Mrs.‘s Jones why aunt Sarah’s 85th birthday party wasn’t on the front page last week. Explain to an advertiser why he can’t have page 4 on which we print editorials. Explain to an ex-subscriber why he had been cut off the mailing list when he only owed a year’s back pay. Explain deadlines ten times a day and why you had to have them. Try to explain why you don’t run a poetry column or sooth a lady who brought in her party news to late for tomorrow’s edition.

An editor can’t blame it on the directors or the “board” when he had to apologize to an advertiser for a mistake in last week’s ad, then smile sweetly when that advertiser tells you that you should be hauling the garbage for the city instead of trying to edit a newspaper. To be a good editor a fellow has to decipher copy written on check backs, that the contributor picks up free on the desk at the bank lobby.

When the banker told us he was doing a favor letting us have it at 6 per cent, we have thanked him, but when we told the secretary of the ladies club that her meeting notice on the front page would cost $2 an inch, she called me a robber.

My most critical in newspaper work was 1928. Al Smith was the candidate for president and our newspaper was on his side of the political fence. The nation was dry under national prohibition and Al Smith was a liberal, and of the same religious faith as the late President John F. Kennedy.

I sat at the editor’s desk during the month of October 1928, nervous as a cow during the rabbit hunting season and every time a man dressed like a Lawrence County farmer entered the door I acted like a little boy who has to go to the bathroom. About every other county citizen who visited the office would look me straight in the eye and say, ” Are you and this paper for Al Smith? If so stop my subscription.”

I’ll bet there wasn’t a banker in town that had a farmer refuse to renew his note or were asked if they were for Herbert Hoover or Al Smith. The preacher and the banker may have their woes, but they are minor compared to the editor or the columnist. If we print something nice about a person, that is what we are supposed to print, but if we make a mistake we get forty-eleven telephone calls. If you are young and have a career in mind, remember bank clerks or a soda jerker is better liked by people in a small town.