are missing cog in retirement
Gwinnett Forum.com Editor and Publisher
(May 11, 2001) -- People have asked what I miss most in retirement.
The answer might surprise you.
In most businesses, and surely in newspapers, it takes a whole
lot of unsung people to make the product worthwhile and timely to
its ultimate consumers, in this case, the readers. A good example
of unsung heros are the people who get up early to deliver your
morning newspaper. Without them, all the work in producing a newspaper
would be virtually done in vain.
Now, in retirement, granted, you miss the people working with you,
especially your right hand person. For me that was Susan Shenefield,
a tireless and detailed colleague, who saved my skin many times.
And of course, you miss the interaction with your other work colleagues,
even in the back-and-forth banter between people at the water-cooler
Yet a group who make many of a newspaper's out-front writers look
good all the time are the editors behind the scenes. You seldom
see these people's name in print, yet they work tirelessly in ensuring
that the writing is not only as factually correct as possible under
deadline pressures, but that it also comes across in a clear and
They routinely catch misspellings and idiosyncracies of writers.
For instance, up until recently, I had often written "ensure"
as "insure," which means to indemnify. I should have been
thinking "ensure." I wrote that way until one of our editors
pointed out the difference about a year ago. Apparently over the
years, others had been routinely correcting my "insure"
to make it grammatically correct at "ensure."
Another time recently, an editor thought my sentence was incorrect
when I wrote that something was "hard by" a river or road.
"What does that mean?" the editor wanted to know. For
some reason, this phrase was not in the lexicon of the editor, who
still decided to change the wording so that it would be better understood.
These days when producing an Internet commentary, I no longer have
the back-up of those professional editors. Oh, yes, of course, I
get others to look over my copy, since everyone needs someone else
editing them. But others who are not professional editors read copy
differently, and not as critically, as I am used to. As good a job
as others do, it's not like having this cadre of trained, professional
editors backing you up.
So now I write for this new Gwinnett commentary slot on the Internet,
operating more by myself. When you've been used to having someone
protect you by questioning what you have written as long as I have,
I feel like a fish out of water.
We all need editors, and today, I miss them most of all.