As city editors and other assorted underlings put out America's newspapers last night, their bosses valiantly schmoozed and headhunted their way through day two of the American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual convention. "Lots of chopped liver and nice cocktails," observed Alex Jones of The Greeneville (Tenn.) Daily Sun.
The main difference from day one was that they got Ronald Reagan instead of George Bush as a speaker and the National Air and Space Museum instead of the Washington Hilton as an evening watering hole. Generally, the museum and Bush got the better reviews.
Reagan, in fact, fizzled. At least he did judging from some random remarks by the editors as the strolled under the airplanes and balloons at the museum last night.
"Is he always like that?" asked Carl Morgan of The Windsor (Ontario) Star. Well . . . yes, the Washingtonians seemed to agree. "Gee," said Morgan. "He was shaky. Seemed to waffle a lot."
"It sort of bothered me that he didn't seem to know what the SEC was," said Jones of The Daily Sun.
"He favored the Olympic boycott, but he faulted Carter for not letting the athletes go," said Robert Bentley of The Trenton Times. "It seems that he wants it both ways."
Aside from jostling Reagan around, the other main party activity was seeing the movie "To Fly," a 26-minute airplane tour of America. A vigorous sub-activity was the continued scouting for, say, the executive editor of a gutsy little southern paper who might make a good managing editor for your metropolitan daily, or word of a hotshot Capitol Hill reporter who might make a good city editor, or a fragile, senstitive feature writer who . . . and on and on, on into the night.
Actually, more of that had occurred Monday night at the opening reception at the Hilton, it being the first time the editors had gotten a good look at each other in a year or so. Last night, the sniffing around had calmed down somewhat and people were ambling along, pleasantly looking at favorite airplanes.
"Used to spend half my life in a DC-3," observed New York Times executive editor A. M. Rosenthal as he gazed fondly in its direction and recalled life as a correspondent in India.
Nearby, a little earlier, Richard Schmidt was holding court. He's the ASNE lawyer who's moderating a seminar on law today that last night he titled "What to Do Until the Lawyer Comes."
So, what do you do until the lawyer comes?
"Pray," responded Schmidt. "Then you get your checkbook out."