Category: Archive

Irish Echo editorial: John Thornton, 1931-2004

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland is still at war. Haughey is in power over there, Reagan, or maybe Bush, over here. The Irish are scrambling ashore in America but someone forgot to leave the door open.
The issue of the Echo destined for the streets the following morning is lined up in two-page sections along a slanted light table that runs the full length of the room.
Computers have arrived in the newspaper business but the production process still involves pages that must be laid out for inspection on paperboard squares known as “flats.”
The final inspection is being carried out by editor-in-chief John Thornton.
He has seen this paper off to the printers hundreds of times. But each week is new, unique, and always exposed to last minute and invariably inconvenient change.
John urges his journalists and production staff to yet greater effort as the minutes tick away. He calls them his “troops.” And they respond with due precision.
Occasionally, a gap appears on a page of print and pictures. They are like gopher holes in a lawn and must be dealt with, firmly and immediately.
John has in his shirt pocket a collection of “filler” stories of various sizes that are used to plug any empty space. Out one comes and down it goes. The Echo’s readers like their pages full, and full they will be.
The point of no return has arrived. The paper is done and must be taken out the door by delivery guys from the printers. John relaxes. But only for a minute.
Editors tend to look ahead more than behind. John returns to his office where the beginnings of the next issue are already taking form.
It will become part of his enduring legacy.

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