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A personal note: This week marked the 40th anniversary of my first staff newspaper byline, which ran in a now-defunct daily in Virginia. I’ve worked as a beat reporter – and for a couple years as a copy editor – in small daily newspapers ever since, demonstrating either an admirable stick-to-it-iveness or an extreme lack of job-seeking imagination.

The anniversary made me wonder: How many words have appeared on sheets of dried, mashed wood pulp under my name? (Quantification is fun!)

Assume five bylined stories a week, 50 weeks a year, for 40 years. Assume each is 15 column-inches – meaning it’s 15 inches long when laid out as one column wide, on a six-column newspaper page – and assume each column inch has six lines with six words per line at 9 1/2 point type over 10 leding. The calculator says that totals 5.4 million words.

The King James Bible has about 785,000 words. So I’ve produced 6.88 bibles worth of local journalism. Ta-da!

Incidentally, in my column in the Concord Monitor I estimated that I have written “more than 4 million” words. I did this calculation years ago but didn’t update it before publication, hence my under-estimate




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