IN MY previous days in journalism I was on occasion called upon to act as editor. This was usually in magazines, but it also did happen at the Sydney Morning Herald on the Metro section.
In that spirit, here is a piece on what the daily life of an editor might be like … in an alternative universe where one is free to be merry with the truth. Like your typical chocolate bar, it may contain traces of nuttiness.
7am: Wake up. Turn on the radio to hear the big stories of the day. Realise that they’ve sourced most of their big stories of the day from the newspaper.
8am: Have a shower and get dressed for work. Choose a striped shirt because stripes are “in” this season and also because they’re slimming. Catch some morning TV. Realise that the tellie has gotten most of its big stories from the paper as well.
9am: Catch the ferry and read the paper on the way to work. Hope the art section isn’t running anything or anyone I’ve got in my section on Friday. Fuck … they are. Make a note to find an immediate story replacement.
10am: At work. Say hello to my young No.2, Billy. See what message he has written on his t-shirt today. Tell him not to wear it if he’s going out to interview Dame Judi Dench this afternoon.
10.15am: Check the email box. A mere 100 new messages. Must be a slow day.
10.30am: Fistfight breaks out on the sub-editors’ desk over the correct use of “it’s”.
10.50am: First random crisis of the day.
11am: News rings, asking if I’ve got anything left over they can run tomorrow. I tell them no. Then I ask if they’ve got anything I can run. They laugh and hang up.
11.15am: Check my snail mail. Half a dozen CDs arrive in the post from bands hoping for coverage. Don’t they know that CDs are dead?
11.30am: Check in with Kiwi Bruce the designer. Ask him if he thinks the latest edition is looking “shit”. “I’ve seen worse,” he says.
11.45am: Check copy flow with the subs. Remove gratuitous reference to “turkey slapping”. Rewrite most of the subs’ headlines because I’m an arsehole.
Noon: Satisfied that all the pics and copy is with the artist and the subs, go through some of the emails of the day. A reader takes me to task for my “mocking tone” during an interview with an American country singer. I reply that “country and western music is shit”, then delete the email and instead reply that “Jimbob Jones is an underappreciated genius”. Feel unclean.
12.20pm: Get my chair “ergonomically adjusted” by the office ergonomics expert.
12.45pm: Exchange witty, ironic JPEGS and GIFs with colleagues.
1pm: Quick lunch at the canteen. Haloumi salad (yum!).
1.30pm: Second random crisis of the day. Call legal department.
1.40pm: Legal department gives me the all-clear. Says “those buttocks are unidentifiable”.
1.45pm: Arts section asks if they can swipe next week’s cover story. I tell them to “piss off”. Then I ask if they’ve got anything for me. They laugh and hang up.
2.15pm: Someone sends me a “literal” spotted in today’s paper: “The Vietnam Wart”. Ah, sub-editor humour.
2.30pm: Indulge in a bit of forward planning, tee up some interviews, try to source cover images. Wonder how I can slip more references to “my spectacular mane of chest hair” into copy.
3pm: Send some future cover images to Kiwi Bruce. Ask him to tell me if they look usable.
3.15pm: Kiwi Bruce gets back to me. Cover images “not too shit”. I ask if that means they’re usable. He says yes.
3.30pm: Second coffee of the day. Maybe a muesli cookie, too, if I’ve “been good”.
3.40pm: Back at my desk in time for third random crisis of the day.
3.45pm: Look around to see what “the opposition” is up to. Remark aloud that they’re “looking shit”. Wonder if in another office somewhere someone is holding up my section and declaring it’s “looking shit”.
4pm: Look at memes of cats.
4.15pm: Publicist accuses me of not supporting local music for refusing to run a piece on little-known yet emerging band.
4.30pm: Publicist accuses me of not supporting local comedy for refusing to run a piece on little-known yet emerging comic.
4.45pm: A friend emails me. “The ’80s called. They want their hair wand back.”
5pm: Publicist thanks me for supporting local theatre for running a piece on little-known but emerging theatrical troupe. Show sells out. I forward the email to the arts critic, who recommended the troupe.
5pm: Google myself.
5.10pm: Remember to compliment someone.
5.15pm: Take a look at layouts, make suggestions, run a red pen over copy.
5.30pm: Stare out the window and wonder exactly who it is who reads the section.
5.45pm: Final crisis of the day.
6pm: Last chance to attend to anything urgent: copy, layouts, images, requests from editors. Read and delete as many emails as possible to get some breathing space for tomorrow’s avalanche.
6.30pm: Insert final reference to “my spectacular mane of chest hair” into copy before calling it a night.
My ebook military thriller, The Spartan, is out now on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Spartan-Charles-Purcell-ebook/dp/B00JGEBTKG