John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, and now at

Monday, August 24, 2009

How I can tell it's Monday

Item 1: The first eight words of a story on the front page of a major metropolitan newspaper delivered to my house: Anthony "Tony" Fein, a former Iraq War veteran. He used to be a veteran but is no longer?

Item 2: A private message asks what advice I could give to someone interested in newspaper copy editing. My reply:

Newspapers have been laying off copy editors in large numbers, partly for overall staff reductions to cut costs but also out of a mistaken belief that accuracy and precision are not worth the expense. [See Item 1.] Consequently, there are very few copy-editing jobs available at newspapers, and there is a large population of out-of-work editors, along with a few students emerging from journalism programs, competing for them. I could not advise anyone that going into editing is a shrewd career move.

Item 3: Last week ground toward its end with a post about a freelancer who sent out a prefabricated story, complete with quotes, so that a source’s name could be typed in the blank. That was bad enough, but Pam Robinson reports on a public relations firm that has its interns posting bogus reviews praising a client’s products.

Item 4: If you doubted that an online publication could rival newspapers for interminable, rambling, self-indulgent articles, I invite you to examine jjmoney62’s structural analysis at Testy Copy Editors of a story about a Little League player.

Item 5: I am already seriously behind on four editing projects.

1 comment:

  1. Surprise, Tony. Your obituary made the front page.