On the Katie Couric indignation

Just a thought about the righteous indignation you’re reading in your daily newspaper today (or more likely, on that newspaper’s Web site) from a guy who has spent more time inside a newsroom than is considered healthy.

But first, a little newspaper primer. In a newspaper, there’s a special category of writer in which one is allowed to write using one’s opinion. The traditional rules of objectivity don’t apply to this writer, called a columnist. The manner in which a newspaper alerts you, the dutiful reader, that the piece you are about to read contains subjective content is to present the writer’s photograph next to his or her piece (which is another rant entirely…remind me sometime…). It’s called a “column sig” in newspaperspeak.

Today, almost every newspaper in America will include a columnist expressing wide-eyed astonishment over the fact that a photo of Katie Couric for a magazine cover was doctored to make Couric look thinner and more attractive. And along with these columns will be column sigs made from photos. And in almost every last damned case, the columnist refused to approve the photograph for print until it had undergone a significant amount of retouching.

Now if that doesn’t make you smile today, nothing will.