Bits o' Bull No. 439!
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 97 10:46:43 -0700
Subject: Bits o' Bull No. 439!
Excerpted-from: BONG Bull No. 439!
THE BURNED-OUT NEWSPAPERCREATURES GUILD'S NEWSLETTER
Copyright (c) 1997 by BONG. All rights reserved.
DING DONGS, MOO JUICE AND POOPY DUST. Douglass T. Davidoff of the Indiana
Housing Finance Authority recalled that stories of a certain type were
called Ding Dongs at the Indianapolis News at least into the 1980s. "This
was not because they were sweet treats to work on. This was simply because
they were stories that rang the bell of the M.E. I didn't recall hearing
the phrase nearly so often in the late 1980s or the 1990s," Davidoff
expostulates. And he added, "Hey, Charley: Please don't say that I 'avered'
this. In BONG Bull, it seems I always aver."
-- Erin Perry of the Aspen (Colo.) Daily News offered, "While an intern
working nights at a large midwestern metro daily, I would sometimes be
handed assignments or press releases with the word "moo" scribbled
discreetly in the corner. My editor, who seemed to dislike handing these
off as much as I disliked doing them, soon informed me that this was code
for 'sacred cow.' Moo eventually took on noun status, as in 'Here's a moo
for ya; be nice with it.' Moos typically involved an event sponsored by the
paper or featuring high-profile participation by one of our muckety-mucks.
I have since successfully indoctrinated two other papers in this particular
use of the term 'moo.' It's so small and elegant, it catches on right away."
-- Scott Yates avered, "At the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican- American,
the publisher had posted around the newsroom a quote from his grandfather,
who started the paper. The quote was something about how there were no
sacred cows, and the paper should cover only what is news, etc. Whenever
the publisher would order the newsroom to do a story about a charity close
to his heart or a friend of his, it would be called a Code Moo. An imitation
of the sound of a cow also worked."
-- Former Erin Perry colleague Michelle Willits of the Las Vegas (Nev.)
Review-Journal aggregates, "Sacred cow is too easy, so we took to 'mooing'
whenever a press release crossed our desks or the word was passed down from
high that we should (read: MUST) do a story. On a bad day, we could sound
like a stockyard .... I've used it often since 'mooving' on, and my cubicle
has a good assortment of cow paraphernalia to remind me."
-- Peggy Vlerebome contributes, "I'll add my two-cent's worth of poopy
dust to the discussion of the origin: I also first heard it at the St.
Petersburg Times, but way back in 1969 when I went to work there. I can't
remember if City Editor Bill Brown used the phrase or banned it! I do
remember it wasn't attached to any particular personality or editor (Don
Baldwin was editor then). An assignment with poopy-dust all over it meant
that it was an ultralight story, not featurey enough for the features
sections, probably, but only marginally news."
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© 1997 Peter Langston