If the parents of Millennium High School's budding journalist students knew who was to be guest lecturer in Wednesday's afternoon class, "excused absence" notes would have flown toward the attendance office.
But as I showed up with only last-minute notice, the teens were stuck. I just hope they got something out of it and weren't wholly dissuaded because of my presentation.
I was asked by the Tracy Press former Voice editor Jack Eddy and current Editor-in-Chief Cheri Matthews to talk about the role of a copy desk at a newspaper, even though trying to make copy editing sound exciting to teenagers is like trying to make rythmic gymnastics exciting to Raider Nation.
But these young adults were good about it, actually painting eyes on their eyelids to make me feel more comfortable about their dozing. (Just joking. School rules don't allow painted eyelids.)
I explained that without a copy desk — especially like the one at the TP — there would be no newspaper. News stories would be printed with holes in the narrative, facts would go unchecked, typos would be even more common, and the layout — well, without us, there would be no layout.
It's the unheralded part of a newspaper staff. Abuse it, downsize it, and eliminate it, though, and you're left with a newsletter instead of a newspaper. (Or an ANG-owned newspaper, take your pick.)
In truth, the five students in the Millennium class were attentive and interested. And they asked some good questions during my awkward pauses.
I hope to guest lecture there again some day. If, of course, the parents don't stop me.