“Where’s Wolf? FBI Spying on Lycanthropes” read the headline of the paper that sat on the table between Rico and I. Somebody in copy editing was probably pretty pleased with themselves, but seeing my name attached to the byline beneath it made me wince.
Rico studied the page as he sipped his coffee. “Man, no wonder you’re always so worried. Turns out somebody was watching you.”
I hadn’t had time that week to meet with Rico for lunch, but now, more than I ever, I needed his advice. So the two of us were meeting for a quick breakfast at the coffee shop on the ground floor of the Wexler Building. Although technically, it was already my second meal of the day.
Who needs Atkins when you have lycanthropy?
In journalism, an editor isn’t just someone who corrects spelling and grammar. Those people still exist, of course, but they’re referred to as copy editors, to distinguish them from the much more powerful section editors. If the newsroom is an orchestra, then editors are the conductors. They decide what gets reported, who does the reporting, and where and when it goes in the newspaper. Collectively, these decisions are called the budget. To extend the musical metaphor further, the budget is the sheet music.
Understanding this is the key to understanding the complicated relationship between editors and journalists. To a journalist, the editor is both supervisor and supporter. They are the source of assignments, deadlines, and criticism, but they are also an advocate, mentor, and collaborator. Your editor can be your best friend, your worst enemy, or both in equal measure.
Kurt Holmes had been my editor for more than a year now, and I still wasn’t sure where to place him.
The newsroom was never silent.
At any given moment at least a dozen people – usually more – would be tapping away at their keyboards with varying levels of speed and force, producing an irregular staccato rhythm that was punctuated by the ringing of telephones, the whirring of photocopiers, and the barking of editors. It was the frenetic pulse of the daily news, driven by the furious heartbeat of the information age. It was discordant and chaotic and beautiful.