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March 15, 2008

The End

The final episode of The Wire (which I haven't seen yet) is called "-30-." Christopher Gabel at Grid Effect writes:

That title is just a morass of punctuation. It's how I imagine Clark Kent wrote all his columns for the paper he worked at. Not merely written prose, but prose so complex that only people who could fly are able to decrypt it.

Well, no. It's not "just a morass of punctuation." Back in the old days, a reporter would type "-30-" after the last paragraph of an article to indicate that it had reached its close -- that there was no more copy forthcoming. It used to be the case, too, that the farewell piece by a columnist would be called a "-30-" column. Very appropriate as a title, in this case.

This is all ancient history now, and I stopped using it with manuscripts a while back when it became clear that scarcely anyone had any idea why the "-30-" was there.

By contrast, TK fills a lasting need and will live forever.

UPDATE: My friend Emily goes meta-TK. Her additions to the Wikipedia entry make perfect sense, and the appoints apply just as much or more to newspaperdom or online writing.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: That would be Martin Schneider, rather, not Emily. Sorry about that.

Posted by smclemee at March 15, 2008 10:11 PM


Actually, "-30-" is still printed at the bottom of many press releases and, I believe, some versions of the AP wires.

Posted by: Aaron Swartz at March 16, 2008 11:22 AM

Really? That's good to know. I get several press releases a week but hardly ever look at them.

Posted by: Scott McLemee at March 16, 2008 11:27 AM

It's actually my stalwart columnist Martin Schneider who continued the conversation, and I liked his Wikipedia edit, too!

I'm glad you wrote about this! And that's all from me for now.


Posted by: Emily Gordon at March 17, 2008 1:46 PM

Hence the old saying: Post in haste and repent at leisure.

Thanks, Martin. And my apology to both of you.

Posted by: Scott McLemee at March 17, 2008 2:01 PM

The best thing about having a website with multiple authors is that people attribute all their timely, smart posts to me! Happy to take credit.

Just kidding, Martin!

Posted by: Emily Gordon at March 17, 2008 10:15 PM