Writers and Deadlines

At times, our social media guru has had to scramble to meet our weekly goal of posting a Hoover blog.  At times, it is not easy to generate a 400-word article of interest, or not of interest, under a deadline.  Clearly this is not a new problem for newspaper writers, many of whom had to generate 500 to 700 words for columns several days a week.

Westbrook Pegler
Westbrook Pegler

The Hoover Library houses the personal papers of Westbrook Pegler, a syndicated columnist for Scripps-Howard and later for Hearst.  Pegler, who wrote six columns a week for decades, spoke for the common man, railed against elites and evinced a sharp wit.  He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1941 for a series of columns exposing corruption in labor unions.  At his peak, Pegler’s column was published in more than one hundred American newspapers and reached an estimated six million readers.  He clearly had skills.

Sometimes, even the ablest author has an off day, facing the intimidation of an empty page—and an even emptier mind—with a deadline looming.  Pegler met this challenge by writing: ‘I must not mix champagne, whiskey and gin.’ Over and over again, the same eight words repeated fifty times, until he’d filled the requisite number of column inches.  A clever ruse, but not one that editors would permit a second time.

I don’t think a similar ruse would work today.  Admitting, even tongue-in-cheek, to imbibing so much alcohol would draw the attention of the Employees’ Assistance Program for an intervention.  I might update it to: ‘I must not mix Netflix, football and nachos.’  Repeating these same eight words fifty times would fully meet the requirements of a 400-word blog post.

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