John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and random topics. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. The original site,, at, and now at

Monday, July 20, 2009

Things I wish I hadn't seen

On Twitter: “What I will drink for my (first) 39th birthday: Candied bacon martini.”

In addition to bacon baked with brown sugar, it includes vodka, applejack, amaretto and — brace yourselves — maple syrup.

In The Baltimore Sun: An article with an inane “They’re not alone” transition from the opening example to the body of the story.

It’s such a hackneyed device that it can always — and should — be deleted without any ill effect on the story whatsoever.

On Facebook: A newspaper copy editor saying that he doesn’t look at his own paper on his day off, because he’s not going to let his employer impose on his free time.

There’s not a lot that can leave me gasping in my chair, but for an editor to announce publicly that he chooses not to see what is in his own publication, as if laziness and unprofessionalism were a matter of principle, undercuts the effort of years to establish that copy editors should be taken seriously.

At You Don’t Say: Posts last week announcing that I had taped a recording for the weekend’s On the Media program on National Public Radio.

Evidently the producers of the show decided that I was not particularly interesting, a judgment that should not stun readers of this blog, and chose not to air the interview.


  1. You are far more interesting than NPR. And so are your followers (Some are scary, drinking what they do, but still interesting).

  2. Hey John,

    We were always planning on running the interview this week. The guest host you spoke with (Mike Pesca) is hosting this week, not last. Sorry for the confusion!

    Mark Phillips
    Producer at NPR's "On the Media"

  3. Aw, John AND NPR are interesting, so I'm glad the interview is still airing. Too bad no one can see the bowtie, though.