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 jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Horoscope for editors

Aries (March 21-April 19) — A writer whose childish excesses you challenge will accuse you of interfering with his “voice.” His editor will back him, not you. Duck and cover.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) — The project that has been in the works for eight weeks will land on your desk three hours before deadline. You do not have the photos, and the graphic is not finished. Brew another pot of coffee.

Gemini (May 21-June 21) — The people who carried your company into bankruptcy will be given bonuses. You will be told to take a five-day furlough.

Cancer (June 22-July 22) — You will become “platform-neutral.” Brace yourself to do two jobs at once.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22) — The benefits of your employer-provided health insurance will be reduced. But your deductible and your premium will increase.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) — In an article you edit, you will correct the spelling of the subject’s name, give him the accurate title, straighten out the chronology, and delete an unsupported assertion that is potentially libelous. But you will overlook a misplaced decimal point, for which you, not the writer, will receive a disciplinary note.

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) — The person who sits next to you will heat fish in the office microwave. Don’t forget to take a handkerchief to work.

Scorpio (Oct. 23--Nov. 21) — An upgrade in the office computer system will leave you dead in the water for four hours.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) — You will edit a company announcement explaining that reductions in content, coverage, and staff will improve the reader’s experience. Control your gag reflex.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) — The human resources staff at the company where you have applied for a job will reject your application. Next time you submit a resume, leave off the dates of your college graduation and employment.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) — The company’s holiday party, in the break room, will feature food that you will prepare and bring in at your own expense. You will have to clean up the break room afterward.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Your boss will beckon you into his office. Before you go, make sure that you have enough cartons at your desk to hold your personal effects.

10 comments:

  1. Wow, I must be on some kind of super-cusp, as seven of these have happened to me this year.

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  2. Fantastically prophetic.

    My "Leo" horoscope just came true.

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  3. Almost, but not quite, too sad to be funny.

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  4. The Myers-Briggs test assigns people to variations on four basic personality types. Think of it as astrology for college graduates. -JM


    (not being able to copy/paste that was annoying)

    MrR (Aries)

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  5. Cancer's two jobs a once sounds pretty easy: What newsroom has its editors doing only two jobs? I'd love to work there.

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  6. One trait that reporters and copy editors share is paranoia. Of course if everything you fear comes true, you hardly suffer from paranoia. You're merely screwed. That would be a good title for a history of journalism in the first decade of this century: "Screwed!"


    You mentioned that an upgrade in the company computer would leave you dead in the water for four hours. The other thing that computer upgrades invariably used to do was move deadlines earlier.

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  7. I'm Cancer with the other 11 signs rising.

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  8. ... and yet he wistfully longs for his days on the copy desk.

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  9. I'm Taurus and a 30+-year journalist. The scenario listed for me happened during my third year.

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  10. Taurus here again. ... and it wasn't brew another pot of coffee. It was find someone to sit for a feature interview, take a cover shot featuring them, write it, edit is yourself, layout the entire publication ... and have it done by 5. (that was two hours, not three). No overtime. Did I make it? Absolutely, but I was out of breath.

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