Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Getting the point across
When my journalist friends spotted the picture, the jig was up. Newspaper people recognize this as a spike. Back in the days before computers, a lot of paper piled up in a newsroom, especially on an editor's desk. All those stories typed on all that copy paper needed to be corralled. When an editor was finished with a story, he would put it on the spike.Evidently some must have used the spike to hold rejects... ie the phrase to "spike a story." But the editors I worked with used it as a way to file used copy, a sort of purgatory before the waste can where copy could be retrieved if there was a question later.
I remember spikes standing straight up and sharp, like a very long nail. And more than one person got nicked when they slapped a piece of paper on the spike. The spike in this photo -- which I inherited from David Nicolette's junk drawer at The Press -- has been bent over to avoid such accidents, possibly in response to OSHA regulations.
The spike on the back of One Shoe Off represents that dangerous, lethal aspect of journalism. A spike figures into one of the scenes in the book when a reputed mobster confronts a crime-fighting editor. "Too bad she has to see blood before she regrets the damage she's done. Some people are like that. Blood's the only language they understand."
Posted by Sue Merrell at 10:12 PM