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/.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Other voices

Item: If yesterday’s post about the increase in errors attendant on the reduction of copy desk staffs interested you, then you should certainly pay attention to the additional insights at Words at Work and Headsup.

Item: If you were intrigued yesterday that Peter Bronson of The Cincinnati Enquirer posed a bogus photo of Sen. Al Franken and, after being informed that it was a clumsy fake, left it on his blog while saying that it looked like something Franken would have done, you will like today’s report from the Cincinnati Beacon.*

Mr. Bronson has somewhat belatedly issued an apology, and the offending photo and the entire post it accompanied have been deleted from The Enquirer’s Web site. Either publicity of the matter has awakened Mr. Bronson’s latent scruples or someone at The Enquirer is concerned about the publication’s integrity. Either would be a welcome development.

Item: Achievement is all well and good, but it is failure that sticks in the mind. If you want a headline to be memorable, get it spectacularly wrong (“DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN”). If you want to be remembered as a copy editor, insist on something really stupid. Language Log, where there is glee at the excesses of the copy desk, presents a classic case today. Perhaps the story is even true. But even if not, the reputation will stand.

Item: Mighty Red Pen has discovered a generation gap, two spaces wide. If you put two spaces after a period, you almost certainly developed the habit on a typewriter. If you put one, you swim in the current of the electronic era.

Item: The Education Fund of the American Copy Editors Society has linked with GoodSearch, a search engine powered by Yahoo that donates half its advertising revenue to worthy causes, of which the Education Fund is emphatically one. Since you were going to look for things on the Web or shop anyhow, you might as well do so on GoodSearch, identifying the ACES Education Fund as your preferred charity.



*I was not aware of the Beacon until yesterday and have no knowledge of its authors or connection with them. Their irreverence toward The Enquirer is pronounced.