For years I would advise young people that after graduation, in whatever discipline, they take a year and work at a daily newspaper. Work habits on a newspaper are unlike anything else I knew.
I was lucky to be part of what I now see as American journalism's golden age. Working on a daily newspaper, back when they were great institutions (Norfolk's Virginian Pilot was one of them), meant meeting relentless deadlines. No fudging, no excuses allowed, the paper is coming out tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow (to borrow a phrase). Being an editorial writer was tougher than anything I'd done before, or did after. The "editor" was uncompromising, he was responsible for the editorial page and to goof was to reflect on him and to provoke rage that sent one of my colleagues to the men's room to throw up. I goofed a few times, I still shudder thinking of his reaction. (more…)