May. 11th, 2007

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It took Knox over an hour by commuter rail and foot to reach PM from Bristol. After years of a half hour commute, this would take some getting used to. Maybe, if he was lucky, the ads promising "Gotham in 45 minutes!" would be accurate once in a while. He stopped along the way from Gotham Central Station for a large iced coffee, and hoped that the heat would break soon.

At least PM (unlike the Globe) had central air conditioning. The paper's owners actually spent money once in a while. He made his way up to the newsroom for the first time. All those times he visited Teller, he went to the floor with the printing operation, where Teller felt an editorial page editor could be free of undue influence. (And where, Knox could add, where everyone else could be free of Teller's winning personality.) The newsroom was far cheerier than Teller's private cave. And much nicer than what Knox used to see every day at his old job.

He weaved past banks of desks, each sporting some form of word processor or PC. Gone was the click-click-clack-ding the typerwriters, replaced by the louder, faster clack-clack-whirr of daisy wheel printers. Even the older staff had moved into the electronic age, though he still saw a few Selectrics in use, and one or two old manual typewriters (for show, probably). It would be another two years, he thought, till the Globe would catch up to this. He missed that newsroom.

Knox found City Editor Danny Nance's office along the far wall, and entered. "Nance?" The red-haired man, beard closely trimmed and looking in relatively good shape for a desk jockey, looked up from the morning paper. "Knox! Welcome aboard." Nance rose and extended a hand. "Last time we met was...the Griswold murders?"

Knox thought for a second. "Yeah. You got kicked in here right after that, right?"

"My reward. It's a living." Knox was quite survey Nance had no regrets, but was willing to let Nance pretend otherwise. "The hours are better, and my shoes last longer."

"And you can afford shoes. So, I hear it was you who suggested I play nursemaid?" No reason that he should also play games, was there?

"It was just my idea to have you meet Casey and Marty. Teller ran with it."


"You know him. He can never do a favor for you without getting two in return." That was true, but at this point, it didn't matter who came up with it. Knox agreed, and that was that. "We'll try to make this easy for you. Painless."

"Painless would be they learn the way I did and I write my column." Nance sat back down, gestured for Knox to do likewise, and just shrugged. "Tell me about these kids. They here today?"

"Casey's at the courthouse. A few new Mob indictments, nothing big. Marty is in Little Rome. Something about a hit, but that's unconfirmed. But they'll be back this afternoon."

"I can wait a couple of days. I'd rather read some more of their stuff first, and hear what you got on them. Your hires?"

"Yes and no. I had the final say about whether they do the City Desk, but they came from a larger pool of tykes. They're not the absolute best, but Marshall needed a new face in Washington, and pulled rank." That gets Knox to laugh. Marshall was known for that from his days in Features at the Globe.

"Casey Harnick first."

"Raised in Haven County, BA from St. Crispin's, college paper and some freelance work for a free weekly in Tricorner. Master's from King's, as I'm sure Bert told you. And before you say anything, Knox, yes, I'm not a big fan of the J-school crew either, but this is how we hire them sometimes."

"Any work in Metropolis?"

"Not much. School wanted him to keep busy but also get an internship, but they shoved him towards magazines. Which he says he hated."

"And why come back here? Metro's got a lot going on."

"And fewer papers. And everyone wants to be there and bask in the big red S overhead. Gotham? Not much competition for this kind of job."

"Why crime?"

"It was my choice to grab him, so that's not a good question. But he's pretty quick on the draw, and even growing up in the 'burbs, you have a sense of this town's bad side."

"Yeah, his work's not bad. A go-getter?"

"He's good at listening to other reporters' questions at press conferences and finding the real answers, but he's afraid to speak up. If you teach him anything, you better him teach him that."

"You want me to get him to be pushy. I can try." Can you teach pushy? Knox wasn't sure. "Anything else?"

"He's good with deadlines, and with research - he might have learned that in J-school. And he shares your enthusiasm over the Bat. I think he would have quit if we didn't relent about Batman."

"I wouldn't have blamed him. Crime reporting IS reporting on the Bat. And you guys - no offfense - were dumb in banning him."

"That came from on high. No proof he was real, and so on. And then came the blizzard and enough eyewitnesses to lift our doubts. Though between us, sales were down. Your Bat-stories were doing a lot for the Globe's bottom line."

"Then why didn't they pay me more?" OK, they did give him that huge Christmas bonus, but he wasnt' going to say that here. "He's a good story. Should be for years."

"Casey wants to get that first interview, you know. I bet it never happens."

"He can dream, right?" Knox shared that dream, after all. "And Yan?"

"Martina Yan...everyone calls her Marty. Grew up in Central City, did her undergrad at Midwestern before Medill. Skipped the college paper, since she paid her way through. Was part-time with the Picture News for three years, mainly doing gopher stuff, with a few uncredited pieces here and there. I think she was one of Joe Kline's researchers before he moved to TV."

"Yeah, another sell out. Haven't thought about him in ages. Remember him and us in Metro during the Son of Stan murders? But he never suffered fools, so that's a vote in her favor."

"He suffered you, but yes, that's a good thing. She then went to J-school and interned with the Standard. Remember the Von Fleet murder?"

"They let an intern in on that?"

"It was a huge story in Chicago. Everyone wanted to know know who killed Sandy Von Fleet, and every paper benefitted. She knew the right questions, and they got some big scoops, all of which were never attributed publicly to her. She's a bit prickly about bylines because of that."

"You checked on that?"

"You're still a cynic, Knox. I called her editor, and he admitted it. Even joked about it. He's not fond of women, or minorities. Lord knows how he doesn't get fired in this day and age."


"Like I said, cynic. Marty is a natural for the crime desk, but because she's like 5 foot 1, and a woman, she has trouble being seen. So it's been a bit of an adjustment for her here." Which is to say, Gotham's cadre of sexist reporters and sexist cops and politicians were making it hard. "She's not afraid to make herself heard, though. Wish she'd rub off on Casey."

"And how's she handling this town?"

"She hates it. Her fiancee got a great job with Wayne, so she had to follow, but she'd rather be in the Midwest. She insists Central City is perfect."

"She know about the biker gangs there?"

"She would rather deal with them than our array of mobsters and thugs. She might be right."

"And how are they reacting to having an old hand guiding them?"

"With sighs and shrugs. She'll give you a hard time. He'll pretend it's okay but I bet he isn't going to listen much, either. Which, I would guess, is how you would have reacted at that age."

"At that age I'd been in the game for years."

"And they feel the same way. No point in telling them otherwise."

"Nope. Goes with being young. Anything else I need?"

"Not yet. I'm still trying to decide how hands on you should be. We have a month till you have to start, so I can think about it and talk it over with you. But no one - well, maybe Teller - wants you to do their work for them. We just want to polish them for six months, and let you do that column."

"Glad to know that."


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November 2011


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