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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Friday, January 25 2002

Three-dot journalism

A hero of my teens, Walter Winchell, was the king of three-dot journalism, and for most of my years living in the San Francisco Bay Area the area's best-known columnist, the Chronicle's late Herb Caen, wore the industry's three-dot crown...Their shtick was writing columns of "gossip items" or observations on their travels and/or revels that were strung together to make a 700-word-per-day quota...strung together by elipses (that's the punctuation mark that consists of three dots)...I've always wanted to write that kind of column and even when no one is stopping me, I've usually chickened out. Here at the end of the first paragraph, I'm not sure I'm even going to finish this experiment.

Of course I wouldn't write gossip pieces. That would violate my scruples...New Testament principles. But reflections on random topics could be used...Caen and Winchell frequently headed their daily output with titles like "a pocketfull of notes" or "along the Great White Way (a nickname for Broadway that Winchell may have invented)...The closest, probably, that I ever came to writing this kind of piece was some of the teen columns for my years with the Journal, especially ones dedicated to popular music. They strung items together in less-than-unified structure...And my columns for the Mountaineer-Herald were usually collections of about 10 paragraphs, each of which was a stand-alone "item" or news story. That was close. But no brass ring.

The news that grabs your attention could go into it. On Thursday, Wal-Mart was declared the world's largest corporation, in sales, for 2001. K-mart a day earlier, on the other hand, declared bankruptcy...And stream of consciousness can be used...Why, speaking of failing companies, do the recent Oldsmobile commercials lead with the zinger, "Why are tens of thousands of people still buying Oldsmobiles?" Seems like a fair question but I would expect Olds to be the last entity to be raising it...And even if Olds may be going down (or not?) the Washington Post reports that General Motors is in third place behind Wal-Mart (and ExxonMobil), and despite being billions of dollars in the red, Ford is still the fourth largest corporation...Where is Microsoft? Cisco? ...Was it just a year ago that Cisco, not in sales but in stock valuation, was the world's largest company?...No, it's not a Mexican Robin Hood...San Jose-based Cisco makes much of the hardware that makes the Internet possible and enables it to keep growing. Its problem is obvious...it's growing a lot slower this year than last.

Winchell was one of the most powerful syndicated columnists ever, in newspapers around the world, including the Tribune-Democrat (he also did a weekly radio program for years and also was on TV weekly for a while). Herb Caen declined invitations to become syndicated, which must be one of the hardest temptations a columnist can resist...In his early years, Caen was lured from the Hearsts' San Francisco Examiner to the Chronicle, and the daily Chronicle's circulation skyrocketed, never to be even threatened by the Examiner again. But alas, a few years after Caen's death, a few months ago, the Hearsts bought the Chronicle and practically gave away the Examiner.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

A paean to praise

"We are encouraged to sing enthusiastically during Mass. It's good to keep in mind that it was God who gave you your voice, and if you haven't been blessed with a particularly good one, singing at Mass is a good way to get even."

—G.K. MacBrien
Sent by Bud MacFarlane, Catholicity

Prayer for the day

Lord, forgive me for so often trying to box up my plans and organize your work so it can all be controlled and explained. Take over, Lord, and do your thing, not mine, today. Amen.

—A. W. Tozer
Sent by Jim Martin

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