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, April 10, 2010

Editors? We don't need no stinking editors


Now that everything is all immediate and direct between writer and reader, since all those superfluous editors and copy editors were dismissed like barnacles scraped off the hull, journalism has entered an era of smooth sailing, right?

Take a look at what HeadsUp: The Blog has to say about a minor masterpiece of modern journalism out of Charlotte, North Carolina. We are treated to the work of a journalist who cannot write a twelve-paragraph article about a tree falling on a house without making a hash of it.

Adding to the overall sense of incompetence unencumbered by editorial expertise, there is the crash blossom headline:

Home crushed by tree with dog inside

 An isolated example, I grant you, but an increasingly typical one.


7 comments:

  1. I think editors, by and large, are amazing. I've learned something from each I've worked with ... but the world of words is flying like a kite on a string these days. Who knows where it will come to land? High in the lofty branches above, or in a corn field ... lost forever amidst the stalks.

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  2. Lots of animals shelter in old, hollow trees.

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  3. The information technology media industry has known about this opportunity for a while.

    If you post a correct story, a reader gives you a pageview.

    If you post an incorrect story, you get a pageview on the story, a pageview on the "post a comment" page, a pageview on the "preview your comment" page, and probably another couple of pageviews on the story as the commenter comes back to see if anyone else noticed.

    Correctness costs more and earns less.

    P.S. Bill Gates wrote Unix in Berkeley in 1969.

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  4. It was the weight of the dog that did it.

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  5. John, further evidence that no editors are needed are in the Sun's reprinting of a 2007 story about John Paul Stevens and Babe Ruth's called shot in the 1932 World Series.

    In introducing the older story, the Sun says that from the stands the Justice-to-be "witnessessed" the event. (In http://fwd4.me/L1z read the second graf.)

    I will never again quesestion the Sun's decision to close the gap between its readers and the news.

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  6. Home crushed by tree with dog inside


    The tree's bark was worse than the dog's.

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