Monday, June 11, 2007

Wall Street Journal, Day 11: Headlines

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - "Hong Kong Lawmakers Clear Kowloon-Canton Rail Merger"

"Aeroflot Agrees to Buy Dreamliners From Boeing"

Those were two headlines from today's Wall Street Journal written by yours truly. What's special about those two is that both of those headlines made it into the paper pretty much unchanged. To me, that's some kind of accomplishment; pretty much all of the headlines I've written so far for the minors I've been working on this past couple of weeks have eventually been altered or flat-out rewritten. I'm told that that's not necessarily a bad thing, and that everyone's headline gets played around with. Still, I think it's nice to see two of my original headlines ended up in the paper.

It's probably just a fluke, though. Today I wrote a headline that ended up being thrown out altogether and reworked by one of my higher-ups. It was an infinitely better headline than the one I came up with, though, so I guess it's cool. And I guess that's why there are so many copy editors over at the South Brunswick copy desk---so we have a large pool of, uh, talent. Headline-writing talent, in this case.

I think headlines was one of the major things I was worried about coming into this internship. I've always been hit-or-miss with them; sometimes---with hard-news stuff, most often---I can come up with decent, "just the facts, ma'am" heads, but when a story calls for something a bit more creative, I find it a bit more difficult. I still see editors around me seemingly able to work by themselves and come up with headlines on their own, while I constantly keep asking people around me to critique the heads I come up with. It makes me a little jealous, I'll admit. Maybe it just comes with experience. Hopefully I'll get more of that experience in the coming weeks.


I notice that this blog is becoming---or maybe degenerating---into a straight diary again. I apologize for not spending time on longer, more in-depth entries, especially about topics unrelated to my Wall Street Journal internship. (I haven't even touched on the whole issue of Rupert Murdoch's offer to buy Dow Jones from the majority-holding Bancroft family; maybe I'll get to that soon, especially after a fascinating article about Murdoch's media-mogul history to date was published as a front-page Journal story last week, one which suggested that maybe Murdoch's sincerity about supposedly maintaining the paper mostly as is should at least be questioned.)

I've developed a routine after I come home from work at around 5ish. The gist of my routine is that I take a power nap after I come home, because I've found that without it, I have trouble staying awake while watching movies at night. Yes, even as a copy editing intern at a prestigious newspaper copy desk, I'm still trying to maintain something close to a one-film-a-day movie-watching habit. But taking a brief power nap seems to freshen me up for at least five or six hours afterward before I go to bed at around midnight.

Thus, for instance, it has allowed me to explore, with fresh eyes and ears, the intoxicating mad visions of Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski in the past week or so. Most intoxicating of all is, of course, Aguirre, The Wrath of God, which is probably the best of their five collaborations (the 1982 Fitzcarraldo is, by comparison, merely an epic-length footnote---and, notwithstanding the by-any-measure awesome stunt of lugging an actual big ship over a mountain, a fairly disposable one at that). There's so much about it that's memorable, right down to the way Herzog shoots nature within his chosen 1.37:1 frame to poetically suggest nature bearing down on these characters; it's as if Mother Nature is thwarting Aguirre, Pizarro and others simply by the sheer force of Herzog's mise-en-scéne. (The closest recent equivalent to this kind of rendering of nature is probably Terrence Malick's The New World, although Malick's imagery is more overtly spiritual, less overbearingly pessimistic.) Wonderfully bleak concluding scene as well, with all the monkeys on the ravaged raft and Kinski moseying around, declaring "Ich bin der Zorn Gottes" ("I am the Wrath of God"). Who's with him? At that point, no one except the bright yellow sun that peeks through the clouds. I think Aguirre has become one of my new favorite films.

I actually did some fairly interesting things this weekend---Friday and Saturday---but perhaps I'll get to them in more detail in a subsequent post. For now, bed beckons soon. Such is life in the working world, I guess.


Anonymous said...

You're learning so much at the internship; its really a terrific experience so far! The blog is not degenerating, just expand your writing to include some of your other activities, and always be vigilant about what you say about the Journal and anything that might be sensitive or too revealing. What a great summer experience for you!! You're so lucky!

Kenji Fujishima said...

Yeah, I'm watching out what I'm writing, too. Thanks for keeping an eye out for me, and thanks for the encouragement!