Monday, April 28, 2008

Edit before you publish

Web first:
Hugh Shelton, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under the Clintons and a North Carolina native, introduced Clinton.

You hate to suggest that civilian control over the military can be taken too far, but ... anyway, here it is with a little reflection before publication:

She was accompanied by eight retired generals -- including Hugh Shelton, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under President Clinton -- as she courted voters living near military bases in and in the mountains.

Isn't that better? It'd be nice to note, of course, that Shelton wasn't the "former chairman" of the Joint Chiefs in the Clinton administration. That's when he was the "chairman." If you really, really think there's a risk someone will misread the sentence if you leave out "former," you could always fill out the relative clause: "who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs ..."

Clinton's appearance will come just over a week before North Carolina's May 6 primary.

Her Democratic challenger also will be in the area this week.

Does that mean she's the incumbent or the champion?

Really. Editors have always worked fast, and they've always taken pride in working fast. But the evidence from the Web-first front continues to suggest that whatever the upper limit is on editorial speed, we're bumping up against it pretty badly.

The conventional wisdom for a while now has been that it's going to take some sort of train wreck to draw the glass offices' attention to the ever-worsening shortage of troops and time. I worry that we're on the brink of escalating the question: How many states does the fireball have to be visible in?


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