Monday, June 22, 2009

Editing fail

And this just in from The State, in The Capital of The Lesser Carolina, with regard to The Governor's wanderings:

Neither the governor’s office nor the State Law Enforcement Division, which provides security for governors, had been able to reach Sanford after he left the mansion Thursday in a black SLED Suburban SUV, said Sen. Jake Knotts and three others familiar with the situation but declined to be identified.

Catch the problem in the attribution? Somebody reduced a relative clause, which is a pretty common way to Omit Needless Words:

Three others who are familiar with the situation
Three others familiar with the situation

With luck, you save a line of type, and eight lines is an inch, and an inch less foam is an inch more beer! Unfortunately, in this case, the missing "who" is also supposed to be guiding the second clause -- "declined to be identified" -- and it can't when the whole thing has been knocked out of parallel.

I expect this one's traceable to the desk, because writers don't usually do that to themselves. Another case of following the rulebook into the ground, and the sort of thing that gives Strunk & White a bad name.

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Anonymous Mark said...

How does this give S&W a bad name? The omitted words weren't needless.

7:03 PM, June 23, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

No, not at all -- but I do think "omit needless words" gets internalized as "this word string is always needless, so omit it," and every case of "who was" gets chopped on grounds that the Good Book sez so.

I think the S&W explanation is much more enlightening than that, but we can probly all agree that most forms of holy writ are ill served by those who use them as bludgeons.

10:13 PM, June 25, 2009  

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