Surviving a redesign

April 22, 2004
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In honor of the sad sacks on the Denver Post’s copy desks (see post below) who are about to have their lives ripped apart in the name of prettier pages, I’ve decided to throw together Seven Tips for Copy Editors to Survive a Redesign.

1) Get with the program. I know this is hard, but don’t fight the change — it’ll happen whether you like it or not, so save your whining and grumbling for the bar after work and do your damnedest to be a good little do-bee and accept your fate. The suckage will be profuse, but it will be temporary. Remember, after you get a tooth pulled, your gums heal up and the hole in your jaw goes away.

2) Don’t let the design gods forget your section. Go through a week’s worth of papers and identify every design device — every sig, dateline, subhead, what have you — and make sure the gods have a plan for each of these doo-dads.

3)The design gods revere section fronts above all else. This means they’re apt to forget, say, the obits page or the middle school soccer agate page. The sooner you jog their memories, the sooner things return to normal.

4) Do not provoke the hammer of the design gods. They are above you, but that does not mean they hate you. They think rather kindly of you so long as you avoid your strongest urge: to nit-pick every third decision they’ve made. The design gods must be appeased, lest they be provoked to do another redesign in two years. So, be good to them, earn their respect and good wishes, tell them they are wise … whatever it takes to keep them happy with this design so they can perhaps be diverted from thinking of the next one.

5) Think of the design gods’ career. The more successful they are at your paper, the greater likelihood that they’ll be hired to bring their godliness to somebody else’s. This may not be the kindest thing to do to your colleagues at other papers, but hey, you don’t have to work with them every day.

6) Refill your prescriptions. Make sure you’ve got as much Xanax, Zoloft, Prozac and other helpful chemicals as allowed by your doctor and federal narcotics statutes.

7) Try yoga. Relaxation and flexibility exercises establish a balanced frame of mind and deter violent impulses.

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