Sunday, May 25, 2008

Was Syesha 1A news, or "Idol" chatter?

Today's Letter from the Editor gives you a glimpse into one of the daily discussions within our newsroom: what belongs on the Herald's front page. And the headline in question centered around "American Idol" and our local contender, Syesha Mercado.

Most days, either Jim or I are making those decisions. As he points out, tradition has pretty much gone the way of fat newspaper staffs. And has turned that into a non-stop discussion -- what should be the dominant photo? How often to change out? Should that breaking news stay on the home page? What's the sexiest headline to get the most traffic?

Rather than merely agonize, though, we find ourselves having a bit of fun. It was almost a relief to have Syesha up for discussion with her fresh outlook on stardom, her strong ties to home and her whirlwind tours. And we won't share the newsroom banter that surrounded the "Daves."

Newsroom humor is often our method for behind-the-scenes coping. When your staff is immersed in the latest murder case, the spiraling economy, soaring foreclosures and school cutbacks, a terse joke sometimes is the only thing to break the tension.

And just when we think we've found something new... well, do a google on The Front Page. Reporters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote an award-winning play way back in 1928 that starred Hildy Johnson in a steamy Chicago press room, filled with bad jokes, agonizing decisions and good gumshoe journalism.

That's the press, baby. And we love it.


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