You know what’s hard work? Deboning whitefish. A machine can’t do it. So a guy stands in a chilled room — has to be chilled so the fish won’t spoil. He runs his bare — has to be bare, so he can feel the pin bones — left hand over the whitefish, while the right one pulls out the nearly invisible bones with a needle-nosed pliers.
I know this because I once watched it done. And what did the whitefish deboner talk about? How fortunate he was to have his job. How happy it made him.
That stuck with me, and explains why I winced, a little, at the Sun-Times’ new slogan: “The hardest-working newspaper in America.”
My first thought was: “How do we know? Did we study all the other newspapers? Because otherwise we’ve installed a lie atop the front page.”
Loyal employee that I am, or try to be, I groped for a bright spin: “mere puffery,” as my lawyer friends would say. Like “World’s Best Coffee.” Why not?
The Tribune called itself “The World’s Greatest Newspaper,” for half a century (a boast fossilized in the call letters “WGN”) and that wasn’t true either.