"I don't get ulcers! I give them!"
Writers on AP made up a lot of words and followed their own rules, but all were subservient to the the mighty Production Editors.
Sentinels of the evolving AP Style Guide and versed in the arts of English, the Prod Eds did everything from (if all went well) slightly altering text (or "copy," established jargon fans) so it fit perfectly to (if all went badly) massively rewriting text (or "copy," established jargon and humour-in-repetition fans), throwing it back at the writer and never inviting them to contribute to AP again.
In between they phoned up software companies to find out game details freelancers didn't know (the price, for example), phoned up freelancers to make them come and write their captions, charmed lino into making AP pages a priority (truly, the Prod Ed was the public face of a magazine) and tried to keep the work flowing between the writers and the artists so accomplishment was continuous. (A lost cause with AP, but there you go.)
Being Prod Ed was a thankless task. To the writer, all you did was cut out the best jokes; to everyone else all you did was chivvy. With their intimate knowledge of magazine production (hence the name - do you see?) it is unsurprising that every Prod Ed on AP (and in real life, too) has gone on to be a fully-fledged Editor.
A Prod Ed held a position of enormous responsibility. Not only did they have to police the technical aspects of the mag (avoiding errors, eliminating emptiness, acting as a conscience and taking out things they found truly offensive on the grounds that they'd likely offend others) but they influenced the creative side. Indeed, a Prod Ed is generally regarded as the most important single contributor to shaping AP proper.
You, our readers, will recognise the Prod Eds' touch in the "furniture" items. If a reviewer wasn't available or the review was smaller than a page, the Prod Ed would write the captions. Your favourite intros, the big-print sentences, well, introducing the reviews ("STRIP POT - Even Pol Pot was more fun," for example) are likely to have been written by a Prod Ed. And only a Prod Ed could find exactly the right phrase to pull out and flash in those middle-of-the-page blobs. ("Fascinating encounter? A paltry 6,400," say.)
All Prod Ed decisions could be challenged, of course, but it was a brave writer who argued a point of order. Like sergeant-majors or first assistant directors, Prod Eds made things happen. Fortunately, ours were also funny, and found time to write for us as well. They were indispensable.
Predictably cretinously, therefore, they are a dying breed in magazines. As AP jealously guarded its Mark Ramshaws, Tim Norrises, Dave Greens, Steve Faraghers and Martin Axfords, other mags found themselves with "editorial assistants" (staff writers doubling as unpaid sub-editors on deadline week) and "subbing executives" (staff writers made into unpaid Prod Eds except without the experience or basic grammatical skills).
But look how much money it saves!