We were sitting in our 10-minute budget meeting recently, discussing the top news stories of the day and what to use on Page A1.
The ritual includes a half-dozen of us from our news, life, photo and graphics departments (sports keeps us informed but is excused from the meeting because of its late-night schedule), and we attempt to reach consensus, or at least a majority.
Discussion centers around our main story or "centerpiece," along with what else to play "above the fold," in addition to our "lead art."
Forgive the newspaper lingo, but I want you to feel part of the meeting.
We also review the state and national wire and decide if there's a story worthy enough - beyond blockbuster national news - to be brought "out front."
On this day, after the usual local and national news rundowns, Steve Carpenter pointed out that Charlie Sheen had just been rushed to the hospital with severe abdominal pains.
"What if he dies?" was my question. "Should that be Page 1?"
Response was mixed.
Sheen didn't die - at least not yet.
Had he died that night, my vote would have been yes. It's a Page 1 story. There aren't many actors who would merit that distinction, but Sheen is one of them.
We are talking about the highest-paid television star ($1.2 million per episode) on one of the highest-rated TV shows, "Two and a Half Men."
Or at least it was until CBS, tired of his alcohol- and drug-related antics, pulled the show for the rest of the season and will run reruns instead.
Sheen has since fired back and has been in the news daily with rambling, scary discourse followed by domestic issues in which police removed his children from his home.
The guy who delivered punchlines has now become one.
Clearly, despite his contentions, he is no longer "winning" and has quickly transformed from an extraordinary comic who made a career out of publicly laughing at himself to a nut case from whom networks may avoid in the future.
And that is a shame because for the excellence of the supporting cast (Alan and Jake and Berta and Grandmummy), Sheen made it work because he was perfectly cast as the character he is - a train wreck and maybe the best example of how not to live your life, with a drink in one hand and a porn star in the other.
We ran a column on the Opinion page by Brent Bozell last week that chided CBS for its failure to demand Sheen clean up his act.
It figures to take a while.
For Sheen's sake, he'll stay off Page 1. And the obit page.
Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.