Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘Windsor Star

Six Minutes that Changed my Life

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The Windsor Star was considered one of the best — if not the best — Canadian newspaper outside of Toronto at the time. Our downtown office overlooked the mile-wide Detroit River separating us from downtown Detroit.

I had been there less than a year when I bashed out some words to show the city editor what a waste of time it had been to assign a photographer and me to cover a God-knows-what-it-was-about conference on a topic no one gave a lick about at a local college. My chore was to write down the names, addresses, titles, etc. of photographed subjects. While we corralled them, I got conversation going by asking what the heck these people did and who wrote the bafflegab in the pile of papers shoved at me as we entered the conference hall.

While waiting for photos to be developed back at the office, I spun a sheet of copy paper into my typewriter and pounded out a piece on how stupid the whole thing sounded as I copied titles I didn’t understand taken at random from that bundle of papers I hauled back to the office. I flipped the copy onto the city editor’s desk on my way to the can and to get a cup of coffee, in that order. The writing exercise took almost six minutes.

As I ambled by the city editor on the way back to my desk, I heard him snicker. He never chuckled or laughed or guffawed – he snickered. He said, “Scag, this is pretty good,” and tucked it into the pneumatic tube that whooshed it up to the composing room to be set in type. The story ran word-for-word just as it was bashed out, wrapped around a small box explaining there was this strange conference in town. For some reason, we never ran a photo.

Several months later, the city editor called me to his desk and said he’d just learned the essay had won a major Canadian journalism award for humorous writing. It took a bit of time for both of us to recover from being pleasantly agape. That win vaulted me to the top tier of newspaper, magazine, radio and television news gatherers and writers on both sides of the river. Job offers began fluttering in by phone, letter, telegram and impromptu conversation. Those six minutes enabled me to pick the spots I wanted from then on where and when I wanted them. My first hop was to the Detroit News – the largest afternoon daily in the U.S. at the time.

This is the Windsor Star piece that opened that door.

 

 

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 14, 2018 at 6:16 am