Saturday, May 30, 2020

We All Know a Boo Radley

I was all of 21, in my first job after college graduation. I’d been hired as a copy editor on the news desk of the Beaumont (Tex.) Enterprise. Production at the Enterprise was just becoming automated, at least in what we called the “backshop.” Reporters still used typewriters, typing up their copy, handing it to editors (including new ones like me) and hoping we didn’t slaughter their peerless prose when we edited.

Most reporters, like most writers, required editing. I quickly learned who the better reporters were – the ones whose copy didn’t need much editing. Some needed a lot. One rarely if ever needed any – and he was the newspaper’s staff mystery.

I’ll call him Joe. He was in his 50s, and he covered local government. When Joe turned in his stories, he would mumble, almost as if apologizing. I don’t think anyone understood the mumbles. The mystery was how he did his job – he was never seen at a city council or other government meeting, and yet his stories reported exactly what went on. No one knew how Joe did it. Even more mysteriously, no one knew where he lived. He received his mail at the newspaper, and that was his legal address. One staffer followed him in his car one night, and all Joe did was drive around Beaumont for more than an hour until his lost the tail. 

To continue reading, please see my post today at Dancing Priest.

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