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On this date

On September 2, 1986, I reported for work on the copy desk of The Baltimore Sun, so today marks a quarter-century (minus one year of [cough] hiatus [cough] to pass over quickly).

So for twenty-four years, some of them fat, some of them lean, I have been showing up at the paragraph factory to identify and correct error and make the rough places smooth. Only another editor is apt to understand the private satisfactions derived from the enterprise, share the camaraderie of our embattled band, or recognize the zest and pride that underlie the endemic grumbling and swearing.

And I will dare to say that the paper has been the better for my being there. Not pristine. Not free of error. Not purged of all hackwork and cliche. But still, better than it would have been without me.



Posted by John McIntyre at 11:32 AM | | Comments (13)


Congratulations! You have done much to make the world safer for readers and to inspire your colleagues.

"And I will dare to say that the paper has been the better for my being there."

dare, dare!

I'll go farther and say that the City as a whole is better for your efforts and even presence.. not least of which being fans of a proper martini in addition to a proper paragraph.


The heartiest of congratulations, good sir! I raise my cup of decaf to you — and to greater satisfaction, camaraderie, zest, and pride for all of us in the future.

Congratulations, and keep fighting the good fight.

Congratulations. There is great satisfaction in making the newspaper better than it might have been every day, quietly and without perception from the many readers who benefit. The unbylined drudges who form the backbones of newspapers deserve the occasional huzzah for a job well done. But then if they got the recognition they deserved, everyone would want to do it. Maybe there will at least be cake.

Prof. McI.,


Quite the personal milestone considering these current challenging workplace times, where job longevity, at least toiling at a singular enterprise for any length of time is becoming rarer and rarer. Must be a major decline in the manufacture of those chintzy 'sendoff' gold-plated watches, these days. HA!

May I add that it's not that often that you are inclined, dear sir, to toot your own horn, as your humility and civility often exceed your proven erudition in all matters lexicographic. Rather, self-deprecation, usually in good humor, is often your want.

Yet on this particular benchmark occasion, I say go shout it from the heights, as I for one, (and legions of others, I would venture to say), believe The Baltimore Sun would have been a much lesser qualitative publication for the past quarter century without your devoted, expert, and jovial yeoman's service.

Indeed, as you so matter-of-factly spelled it out, your resolute toil at the paragraph factory over all these many years made the paper "better than it would have been without me." The truth never hurts.

Your super blog has just been the added icing on the celebratory cake!

A martini toast to our exceptional blogmeister!

We are all hopefully wiser, more informed, and better folk for your daily musings, and keen observations.


In 1986 I had been 21 years in journalism, most of them editing. And I was the best part of 20 years away from retirement.

By 1988 I had quit the editorial treadmill and was off on even more curious newspaper experiences. Some of them were very enjoyable, many of them were more sensibly paid, but in none of them, over a working lifetime, did I have such satisfaction as I got from editing a big running story, neatly put together from a variety of sources, well-worded, factual nonsense omitted, appropriate background added, good headline written, sent to print three or so minutes from deadline. Sometimes someone said: "That wasn't bad." That was good, too.

So I know what you mean. Congratulations.

Hear, hear! Congratulations, John.

That congratulations from Anonymous was actually from th'incompetent me.


Clearly old boy, your tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek self-deprecating humor has stood you in fine stead over these many years......... " th' incompetent me", indeed.

I strongly suspected from your past subtle hints, now and again, that you must have toiled in the fertile field of print, or broadcast journalism for some years, as you've consistently brought tremendous seeming 'insider' insight , (often peppered w/ caustic, or wry humor), to this blog site, where the art of journalism w/ all its nuances, intricacies and curiosities is largely the meat-and-potatoes of this entire lively online enterprise.

I'm fairly confident that your dedicated professional input, wherever you may have dutifully exercised your editorial/ lexicographic/ writing skills, stood you in more than just good stead w/ your sundry employers. And hopefully your efforts were duly appreciated. I gather in the demanding copy editing domain, "That wasn't that bad.", actually constitutes mild praise.

For me, your keen wit alone would always carry the day.

Here! Here!

Another toast to Prof. McI.------A wee dram of the amber Laphroaig elixir, straight up!



I'm no copy editor, but I get what you mean about the satisfaction you find in your work. Congratulations on hitting the quarter century mark.


P.S. The Sun showed remarkable sagacity in hiring you back.

Young whippersnapper ...

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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