Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sentence of the (middle-aged) morning

Why is it one senses that some desker felt the hot satanic breath of the editing textbook on his/her neck and decided to "fix" something here?

Parents had insisted each teen stop contacting each other shortly before they disappeared.

The unspecified "parents" (sorry, you need to say which parents; it doesn't work like "police") looks like the writers' work, but I'm guessing "each stop contacting each other" isn't the sort of thing that writers produce.

This one's harder to figure out:

The teens were found at about 2:20 p.m. Monday on Holly Beach, on the Gulf of Mexico border in the far southwest corner of the state, said Cameron Parish Sheriff's Detective Joey Babineaux.

Hmm. Didn't know the gulf had a border. But was this the location as it arrived at the desk, or did it start life as something like "on the Gulf of Mexico near the Texas border"? It appears to have been a bad night for geography downtown; the accompanying map has a label for "Cameron Parish," but no borders to indicate where the said parish might be.

Follow the sequence of events in the next graf and you'll see one the desk should have challenged:

The couple, he said, had been spotted in the same area Sunday by a resident. Deputies were notified Monday morning and later found Gage and Hannah driving down a highway.

OK. On the front page, the teens notice that they're being watched from a beach ambulance station and drive away:

Ambulance workers, who had learned of the missing teens from national news reports, radioed the Cameron Parish Sheriff's Department, who pulled them over around 2:30 p.m. Monday.

So -- who exactly notified whom, and when? The two sequences sound different enough that they ought to be reconciled.

The truism -- at least, what we like to tell ourselves -- is that good editing is the kind you can't see. The flip side of that is understaffed/overstressed editing really sticks out. Hope they get some help soon.

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Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Well, the first one seems clear (though of course "clear" != "good") - both sets of parents had insisted. Why "both" isn't used instead of "each" is beyond me.

But that last one? I first read it as meaning that the police pulled over the ambulance crew who had notified them. Which didn't make a lot of sense...

12:42 PM, January 22, 2008  

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