Thursday, January 31, 2008

Editing in the Brave New World

Should copy editors still get paid to sit around and do the same old tedious stuff they always did, now that we're in the Interactive Age? Cruise along with the New York Times as it treats us to political blogging with the Times® touch:

While the Clinton and Obama presidential campaigns claim to care about working women, one working woman is not exactly feeling the love.

Rosie the Riveter? Lady Marmalade? Umm Czarina? Would City Room care to fill us in on the working stiff's identity?

On Monday, Shelly Sindland, a senior reporter for Fox 61 (WTIC-TV) in Hartford, lingered after a town hall meeting held by Hillary Rodham Clinton in Hartford to ask the candidate what she thought about last week’s Obama endorsements from Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his niece Caroline. A campaign aide informed Ms. Sindland that the senator was there only to meet voters. Ms. Sindland tried anyway, putting the question to Senator Clinton three different ways, without luck. The senator continued shaking hands and signing autographs as if Ms. Sindland were not addressing her from a few feet away.

Take that, working people of all nations! Needless to say, the Obama camp, a few days along, is eager to play catch-up:

A female Obama aide chided Ms. Sindland that* the event was only for “real people'’ and that Mrs. Obama would not respond. Mrs. Obama shrugged obediently and kept moving.

And what does the Free and Independent Press think about this?

Ms. Sindland, who has interviewed powerful women — from First Lady Laura Bush to Queen Noor of Jordan — without incident, was not sure how to respond to the put-down. But outside the diner, she said, “I had more freedom of the press in the former Soviet Union,” when she covered the nuclear accident at Chernobyl.

Hmm. Does the alarm go off at the dissonance between the quote and the explainer? As in, it'd be hard to cover the Chernobyl accident "in the former Soviet Union" because it didn't occur in a "former" Soviet Union but in the real thing? Blunder? Track record inflation? If so, whose?

The claim doesn't appear to be the reporter's; to hear Fox 61 tell it, she picked up an award in 1997 (that'll be nine years after the explosion at the Chernobyl plant) for a series based on her travels with "a group of local humanitarians":
Sindland spent time in "The Dead Zone", saw deformed babies in an Orphanage
and made it as far as the Chernobyl Plant's gate but then left after being
threatened to be arrested.

"More freedom of the press," eh? Granted, a political culture that encourages openness to the media is part of some press-freedom measures (the current incarnation of the Freedom House scale, for one). But access to official business isn't the same thing as a constitutional right to an answer from a candidate's spouse about whether she/he is enjoying her/his trip to Hartford. Draw your own conclusions about any comparison to the Soviet days. (Fox 61 apparently has.)

The vitae-baking, though, looks as if it belongs exclusively to the Times. And it's the sort irritating small-scale factual annoyance that copy editors catch, as long as they have time and somebody's interested in seeing such stuff caught. Is Times editing going to catch up with Times blogging? Is editing going to catch up with blogging anywhere?

* Sure looks like an out-of-bounds "chide."


Blogger Strayhorn said...

I can remember from the Age of Reagan several reporters complaining that the Gipper regularly ignored their questions.

Man up, nancy boy. It's just business. And if some pol is ignoring you, you've probably done your job well. Give up your star ego and assign that question to a lesser reporter in hopes of catching the interview subject off guard. You may not get an answer then, either, but at least you will get the befuddled look on camera or the evasion on tape.

9:11 AM, February 01, 2008  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

"Man up, nancy boy"? Especially when the complaining reporter is a woman this is just ... well, I'll settle on bizarre though it's not the first thing that came to mind.

I just wish the people who moan about things being better in the good old USSR had ever actually lived there.

9:56 AM, February 01, 2008  

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