Thursday, November 23, 2006

Running short of polite hints

Mind if we make a policy suggestion for the nice folks at Eighth and Elm? How about: From now on, any obituary that mentions the decedent's military service will include a note from the reporter affirming that the dates of any battles and wars mentioned have been checked with a reliable (for beginners, that means "non-Internet") source and compared with the decedent's birth date and any service dates mentioned. Violations will result in the loss of a letter grade on first offense and failure of the course for the second offense.

A policy appears to be in order because sweet reason ain't working, viz. and e.g.: He served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and because of his military career, he traveled all around the world.

Ahem. According to the birth date in the second graf, he was 12 years old when the Korean War ended. (HEADSUP-L is not particularly interested in contentions that the armistice of 1953 didn't end the "war" and will start by referring whingers to the timeline at the Army's own 50th anniversary site: The United States, North Korea and China sign an armistice, which ends the war but fails to bring about a permanent peace.) And as it did last week, when it invaded Okinawa two years ahead of schedule, the paper looks dumb.

Which is, of course, the writer's doing. But it's also another missed chance for a copy editor to drift back toward the wall, time the leap just right, and pluck the ball out of the stands. In the box score, it's an F-9 like any F-9; there's no mark to distinguish "routine story" from "editor saves lazy reporter from public embarrassment." But what we care about is whether the game goes in the win column, not who goes on the postgame show. Right?

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