The snake rule, or words we keep in newsrooms for no good reason

Elizabeth Donald
5 min readJan 22, 2024

To this day, almost no one in a modern newsroom knows what a pica pole is, with the exception of myself and a few veterans old enough to remember computers that needed a boot disk.

Like many things that have disappeared, the pica pole once was an essential tool for laying out a newspaper. Now it makes for a good backscratcher when the shift gets long.

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Elizabeth Donald

Journalist for more than 25 years, freelance writer, editor, photographer, and fiction author. Subscribe at patreon.com/edonald or visit donaldmedia.com.