Archives for October 2012


Editors at Work: Preaching the Virtues of Fowler, Strunk, and Orwell

By Jack Limpert

Frank Waldrop, the editor of the Washington Times-Herald before it was bought and killed by the Washington Post in 1954, was my early Washington mentor. Frank lived most of the 20th century—from 1905 to 1997—and he was a tough, old-fashioned newspaperman. Here are three pieces of his writing  advice.

1. Who was it that said “First, murder your darlings” to the friend who set out to write? Whoever he was, he knew himself and he knew the writer’s dangers, attachment to some “airs and graces” as Fowler calls them, that stand in the way of directness and plain speaking.

Why You Don’t See Editors on Sunday Talk Shows

By Jack Limpert

Watching the Sunday morning talk shows, I sometimes remember back to 1981 when ABC-TV redefined the Sunday morning talk show with This Week With David Brinkley. A regular panelist on the new show was Ben Bradlee, executive editor of the Washington Post, who was at the height of his fame after guiding the Post through Watergate and being played by Jason Robards in the movie version of All the President’s Men.

When Editors Do Something Really Dumb

By Jack Limpert

I edited 490 issues of The Washingtonian and every month when the new issue arrived I opened it thinking, What little time bombs are ticking this month? Mistakes come with the territory when you’re putting together a good-sized magazine.

Your first wish is that there be no certified letters from law firms. Then you wait for the calls, e-mails, and letters. The most abusive phone calls usually came from fellow members of the media: Oscars for loudest vocal performances by an aggrieved journalist go to Sy Hersh and Carl Bernstein,