Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why I love my job, part II

Why do I love my job? Well, it's almost midnight on a Saturday, and instead of trying to fit the news of the day into three lines of six counts each,* I'm at home with a glass of cheap-yet-funky Chilean carmenere, a cat wandering the perimeter,** the R&B show on the radio,*** and seventeen -- count 'em, seventeen -- assorted copies of the AP Stylebook sitting here on the floor.

That's not all the style guides in the house. That's nowhere near all the style guides in the house. But it is all the AP Stylebooks (1960-2009) I can put together, and it isn't a bad collection if you want to look at how the rules of news language evolve. Specifically, I'm interested in the "official" version of how the Middle East looks and how it's changed over the years.

Note the second deck**** shown here: Why would anybody writing heds for a newspaper in Illinois in 2010 begin a headline with a lowercase letter? Because ... um, Arabic! Everybody knows they're scary and devious and -- well, they lowercase everything, so we should too, isn't it?

Actually, no. Style doesn't (at least, it shouldn't) tell you to do something silly. But apparently it's suggesting that you do something contrary to common sense, and contrary to what you already know as an English-speaker. And that's the fun part of the project: Why do people make decisions like this, and what do they expect to do the next time?

* Which is a pretty good proxy for how I spent most Saturday nights from 1978 through 2003, if you're scoring along at home.
** Bernie. Woodchuck has called it a night.
*** Canadian hockey in the background. I'm still getting used to the lifestyle up here.

**** The second closed ballot box ("square bullet") in the example. We had a really good reading from the early 1940s the other night about ways of assigning importance to newspaper stories. I was OK with the terminology, in the way I can usually stagger through "whan that aprille" and all that, but I can see how it would mess with somebody born in 1987,


Saturday, October 30, 2010

With Ingrid Bergman as hypotenuse Little Round Top

File this lede under "No, not really." Or "Dude, where's my car?" Or something.

It gets the day's Lede Fail prize because it asks the audience to know a lot more than it should have to in order to make sense of a politics lede on the Saturday before the election -- but not enough to make the metaphor work. Who's Pickett in this scenario? (For that matter, who's Lee?) Whose immediate and long-term goals are different from who else's? Are we fishing for an extreme version of the "game frame," or are we just looking for random ways to say "lots of bloodshed"?

Nope. Send it back. Try again. And while you're at it, please pay particular attention to the stuff on the front page:

Giant pumpkins costs hundreds of dollars, and Fitzpatrick didn't have it.

They does?

It's nice to save writers from their metaphors, but it's essential to save them from their inability to count to "plural."

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I love my job

Was it really just three and a half years ago? Your Editor was sitting in the Interim Graduate Pit* at the World's Baddest J-School, trying to drive the last couple of stakes into the dissertation monster, when this exciting tale showed up at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network:

'Muhammad' Jumps to No. 2 in Britain as Most Popular Name for Baby Boys

It was another one of those stories that never go away, and six months later, when we were settled into Language Czarina's little hometown and looking out through the snowdrifts at our new life, it was back:

Move Over Jack, Mohammed's About to Pass You as U.K.'s Most Popular Boys Name

And one thing led to another, and a paper that had been in the works for a while ended up getting (a) a cool new title and (b) published, eventually.

So as bursts of psychotic race-baiting paranoia go, I've always had sort of a soft spot for this one. Thus I was kind of tickled to see it back this afternoon:

Mohammed Now Tops the List of Most Popular Baby Boy Names in Britain
Indeed, I was a bit dismayed that it didn't manage to make its way into the top four stories. Pressure of the campaign, I guess.

Please don't misunderstand me.** I'd rather live in a world in which psychotic race-baiting paranoia wasn't an approved mode of political discourse, but I don't. That said, I'm delighted when the bad guys try to move across country in the open. It's that much easier to ensure that they're subjected to unceasing shame and ridicule. Please be sure to do your part.

* The original Pit was much cooler, having at one point been the Linotype room of the Missourian. But it was out of commission for a couple of years while all that nice Reynolds money went into renovating the entire Zip code.
** I don't think you Usual Suspects will, but just in case some newcomer isn't clear about this ...


Thursday, October 28, 2010

The perfect front

Could you even dream of a better front page if you're the Fair 'n' Balanced Network? Climate hoax fail! Democrat dirty tricks! Those Black Panthers who might have scared you at one precinct in Philadelphia for a moment two years ago! Missing innocents!

Fox in campaign mode is a sight. Enjoy it while you can. But please never pass up a chance to heap scorn and ridicule on it.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nothing so exhilarating

That certainly seems like a clear hed, doesn't it? Until you get to the lede, that is. Does it introduce a shade of doubt? Perhaps it should*:

A 911 call reporting the three men came from the EconoLodge on the south side of 14 Mile** near I-75 and Oakland Mall just after 3 a.m.

The Madison Heights sergeant who first responded narrowly escaped being struck by gunfire when a man with guns in both hands shot at him numerous times, Police Lt. Robert Anderson said.

I'd say that's pretty good news -- but it certainly isn't the news reported in the headline, which says he was shot. That's a rather substantial difference, you think? Hed writers would do well to learn it. Prepositions are small, but they aren't trivial.

* The two grafs reproduced here are from the print edn, which often differs from the online version.

** Trivia time: Do any of you Jon Stewart fans recall the "R. Kelly impersonator" who sang love songs about Kwame Kilpatrick's romantic assignations at the Residence Inn? It's across the street from this one.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Dear Free Press Washington Staff: The outfit you refer to here* is known as the "Democratic Party." Not the "Democrat Party." Please make a note of it. Please refer to the note often when you're, oh, writing 1A stories about poll results.

There was a fairly good amount of writing about this amusing-slash-annoying semantic trick back in the Bush days (Bush himself went so far as to use it as an out-and-out adjective: "a democrat Israel"). It remains a favorite of Rush Limbaugh and the other denizens of the AM dial. Writers who want, or expect, to be taken seriously don't indulge in it. And editors don't let friends write stupid.

The assertion about what's causing the independent candidate to "eat away" at the leader's support-- specifically, that it has some "apparent help" from the Dems' flyer -- is a different matter. It's simply made up. It's fictional. The mailing isn't even mentioned again until the 15th graf of the 5A story that this one points to, and there's nothing there to support the claim that it's made some difference.**

Which is worse: running made-up assertions about the data, or being a tool of the Limbaughs of the world? You make the call!

* Alert readers will note that it's corrected in the online version.
** Which is actually a good thing! You can believe in Santa, and you can believe in measurably huge effects from a single flier. At least with Santa you have two more months of bliss before the annoying truth sets in.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

That's why it says 'plus OR minus'

Here's the key graf from Sunday's lede story (right), showing a 2-point gap in the Ohio governator's race. Ready to play "spot the error"?

Pollsters interviewed 839 likely Ohio voters by home phone or cell phone Oct. 14 through Monday. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, meaning the Kasich lead could be as much as 5.3 points or Strickland could be ahead by 1.3 points.

Read more »


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Design fail: Cheers!

This one needs a bit of back story. Along with their generous three days a week of home delivery, the local fishwraps provide an online facsimile of the print edition. You can browse through it page by page and click on articles, photos or ads to get a readable version. With stories, one click gets you to a text-only mode, and the second click yields a full-size view of the article and its illustration.

Except when the program outsmarts itself, as seems to have been the case here. The art is meant to illustrate a top-of-the-page blurb promoting today's beer festival at Eastern Market, but when you click on the news briefs, guess what comes up?

It's an ambiguous design at best anyway, even with the (annoying) color screens. The simple solution would be to move the art to the right of the text. If that breaks a house rule -- well, break it!

The writing in the banker story isn't getting any better:

A funeral was held Friday in Detroit for Mt. Clemens bank president and CEO David Widlak, days after his body was found floating in Lake St. Clair and after a private autopsy commissioned by his family showed he was shot execution-style in the back of the neck.

That's one too many "after" clauses for me. And the bizarre participial adjective "shot" makes its way into heds on consecutive pages -- in addition to the "shot bank CEO" here, we have "Shot parole absconder is turned in" on 4A.

I think the hed writers are inferring a rule on the order of "any past participle can become a preposed adjective with the meaning of 'that was' or 'who was.'" Alas, there ain't no such animal. Some participles do. "Buried treasure" is treasure that was buried, and we couldn't write crime heds if "slain" didn't mean (as the OED puts it) "that has been slain; killed; slaughtered." Others need some help. "Eaten" survives with "half-eaten" or "moth-eaten," but "the eaten pizza" doesn't work.*  Still others have specific and limited uses, like the "killed virus" in vaccines.

"Shot" has some of both: special uses like "shot herring" and "shot velvet," along with compounds like "shot-down" and "shot-up." But the only cite meaning "person who was hit by a shot" looks pretty literary. I'd rule it out for heds.

Why did it show up? I suppose, given the dueling autopsies and the slight shadow of a doubt in the newer one, the desk wanted to avoid "slain," and "dead" seems pretty redundant given that it's a funeral. "For banker found dead in lake" might work.

But first things first. Preview the page before you publish it, and if the result is embarrassing -- as this hed-and-art collision certainly is -- fix it. Sheez.

* Except for the Swinburne cite, that usage looks like it faded out early in Modern English.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Time experts like an arrow

Today's quick hed quiz: What kind of experts, and what are they saying?

The Edna Buchanan lede isn't much help:

It may have been the water that worked against him.

Or he might have split up or he might have capsized -- what's "it," and who's who? (Thursday's lede, for comparison: "It was the family’s autopsy that found what the investiga­tors’ could not — a bullet and evidence that banker David Widlak was shot in the back of the head.")

As Macomb County Medical Examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz examined David Widlak's badly decomposed body, the damage caused by its submersion for nearly a month could have contributed to his missing the contact bullet wound on the back of the banker's neck, Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt said.

Whatever the case, Oakland County Medical Examiner Dr. L.J. Dragovic, who performed a second autopsy on Widlak at the family's request, said suicide was highly unlikely.

If you've been keeping up with the story, you might have been able to track all the players so far (though you might also wonder why Schmidt isn't also a "Medical Examiner Dr.," given that both the Freep and the News have indicated in the past that he qualifies).

Owing to the Freep's bizarre no-jump policy, this graf becomes the lede of a separate story in 13A:

Forensic experts said what evidence a crime lab finds on the bullet, bullet fragments and .38-caliber revolver registered to Mt. Clemens bank president and CEO David Widlak is critical.

That's one thing if the bullet has already been introduced. It's quite a different thing if it hasn't.

At the very least -- could we please be a little more careful with the heds at the top of the front page? (At the Web site's front page, someone kindly added the missing comma: "Water, time, experts say.")

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The collared vote

You're damn right I got the ... wait, what?

Bell councilman: In the Oct. 13 Section A, a profile of Lorenzo Velez, the only Bell City Council member not charged with a crime, described Bell as "a city dominated by blue-color Mexican immigrants like himself." It should have said "blue-collar."

This eggcorn-turned-correction was spotted by the outstanding Regret the Error site.


Punctuation fail

Here's another of those occa- sional cases in which it seems well to listen to the rigid prescriptivists. Quick, what's your first reading of this hed?

I got more or less what I'd get from "Victories give Red Sox hope," where the order of the two objects is pretty much interchangeable:

Give me the ball

Give the ball to me

Make sense? A version of something is being given to some parents? Well, if you've been keeping up with this tale (and when Fox starts showing an interest in your local news, that's a sign), you know better. What's being given is the parents' version, and it would have taken the square root of no time at all for someone to put an apostrophe in the hed and made the point clear. Sheez.

I am somewhat annoyed at this juncture, because editors are still losing jobs. The people whose job it is to make small and quick and obvious fixes like this, along with the vast array of other, subtler, more complicated stuff they do, are being "involuntarily separated" from news organizations even as we speak.* The people who sign, or used to sign, their paychecks are making those decisions because they're convinced the audience doesn't care -- it hasn't yet reached the threshold where it's going to stop providing eyeballs to advertisers out of disdain for sheer technical ineptitude. That's not very promising in the long term, and in the short term, it simply sucks.

* This is not an exaggeration.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

As opposed to ...?

By their modifiers shall ye know them:

The uncertainty surrounding that event followed an unusually heated TV debate Sunday night, hosted by the University of Louisville, that saw Paul, a trained opthamologist,* and Conway, the state attorney general, trade barbs about each other's character, integrity, and prior statements.

This sort of construction always gives me pause.** What is it that we're distinguishing him from? An amateur ophthalmologist? A weekend ophthalmology reenactor? Somebody who was home-schooled by a mommy and daddy ophthalmologist?

* Spelling in the original. Hey. Fox is trying to save you from the looming socialist takeover, and you're complaining about the spelling?
** Especially during the full moon! Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Man overboard!

The Nevada Senate debate was a better-than-average addition to the year's stash of amusing political language, including Sharron Angle's habit of addressing her antagonist by both names -- "Harry Reid" -- in the manner of a romance novel heroine. My favorite is this lovely case of the missing Donner Party comma, as transcribed at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network:

"Man up Harry Reid," Angle exclaimed at one point, "You need to understand that we have a problem with Social Security."

Man overboard!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bridge-buying with the Post

What happens when clueless journalism runs head-on into jackleg social science? Well, we get the Washington Post buying itself a shiny new bridge to Arlington or Brooklyn or nowhere. Since this tale has brought such tidings of comfort and joy around the nattersphere, let's go for a drive:

Well, that's a relief! I wonder how we know.

A new analysis of political signs displayed at a tea party rally in Washington last month reveals that the vast majority of activists expressed narrow concerns about the government's economic and spending policies and steered clear of the racially charged anti-Obama messages that have helped define some media coverage of such events.

There's a lot to unravel here -- not just what constitutes a "vast majority" and how we tell "narrow concerns" about policy from "racially charged" messages about that Kenyan Muslim socialist colored guy in the White House, but what constitutes the sort of "new analysis" that rises to the attention of the Washington Post.

Read more »

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Clueless edit of the (rapidly fading) year

McClatchy Newspapers
Posted: Friday, Oct. 15, 2010
WASHINGTON American voters could have a major impact on the outcome of 20 House of Representatives races and 14 Senate contests if they can reverse a pattern of low turnout in nonpresidential election years, according to a report that the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released Thursday.

Odd. You would have thought that American voters were going to have a major impact on nearly all the congressional races around this great land of ours. Either McClatchy knows more about the Alien Menace than it's letting on or ...
Read more »

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

The whom sell out

A man whom federal au­thorities say had close ties to slain mosque leader Luqman Ameen Abdullah pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to commit federal crimes.

Dear reporters: Whichever way you think you ought to render the pronoun -- just do it the other way, OK?


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stop the press!!!!!!!!!!

All right, all right. Here's another candidate for Hed of the Century, innocently reporting that Catholic leaders are visiting the Vatican, and some of you yahoos out there are elbowing each other in the ribs. "Where's the bear?" you're asking. Well, the bear was on the front page. The lede story on the front page, as it turns out. With a whole family of bears. Is that enough bears for you?

It appears that there were indeed more than two bears, and that's more or less how the bears became the Topmost Super-Important Story of the Day at the largest surviving newspaper in our little mitten-shaped paradise. See, the nimrod in question was apparently a little cheesed off at how wildlife officials had characterized the encounter, so he took matters into his own hands:

Fortune, a 21-year-old service adviser for a car dealership, called the Free Press today to dispute a characterization by state officials of his attackers as “a sow and three cubs.”

“They may have been related. But those were full grown bears,” Fortune said.

Fortune said he was annoyed by reports from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment that suggested the attack might have been attributed to his attendance at a family picnic earlier in the day, and the smell of fried food clinging to his clothes.

“I had different clothes on … hunting clothes. There was no smell of picnic on them,” he said. “I don’t know what happened.”

Just a few years ago, you know, this newspaper still had its own correspondent overseas.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Today in journalism history

If you had been reading the World's Greatest Newspaper on this day in 1950, you would have seen something you were pretty used to seeing, at least if you were a regular reader: the proprieter's name. Here, he's being honored as "the greatest patriot of this generation."

We don't see Bertie McCormick's like too often these days, so the occasional hint of a return to the good old days is actually kind of cool. For example, this gripping op-ed from the Wall Street Journal, which spent most of the weekend on the front page of the Fair 'n' Balanced Network before migrating to its perkier cousin, Fox Nation.

You can almost hear 'em tuning up for the Chicago Theater of the Air, can't you?


Monday, October 11, 2010

It never goes away, does it?

OK, it's not "Dewey Defeats Truman," but here's a can- didate for the Headline Hall of Fame. The paper is the Los Angeles Times of Feb. 23, 1942, and the topic is -- well, what do you suppose they mean by "a case of suspected espionage in the Ivanhoe district that appears a direct menace to the Visalia-Dinuba School of Aeronautics"?

This is offered as a reminder, as the campaign season lurches toward its conclusion, that some candidates for higher office across this great land of ours are, ahem, loonier than others. Their public statements should perhaps be subjected to correspondingly higher scrutiny in the public press.

The particular example who comes to mind in these parts is the amazing Sharron Angle, who made some news at the weekend by suggesting it was time to liberate Dearborn from the clutches of sharia law -- to the consternation of Mayor (is this too good to be true, or what?) Jack O'Reilly.

Candidate Angle is not alone. You might, for example, find yourself with a Sue Myrick in your district. The ballot box is the weapon of choice in a democracy, but there are cases in which a little public ridicule wouldn't be out of line. America's Newspapers, are you listening?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A dat which will live in infamy

Sorry. I'm running out of snarky things to say about this monumentally stupid and overused sports trope. (If you missed the other installments in this series, yes: Pavel Datsyuk has distinguished himself again on the ice.)

But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln -- it was almost perfect having Armando Galarraga doing the Eye Institute commercial this time.

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The costumer is always right

Spellcheck won't save you now, earthlings:

Marjorie's will likely be open Tuesday through Saturday, she said, and will hold evening hours at least one of those nights. The shop will also buy gold, silver, and platinum from costumers.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A good time to be prescriptive

To everything there is a season. There is a time to put on the flowery garb and dance through the fields going hullo trees, hullo sky, usage is what The People say it is! And there is a time to be annoying and prescriptive and utterly inflexible. Guess which concept is illustrated here?

Right. There may be some observation-based case for agreeing that, yes, sometimes people use "refute" (to prove something wrong) to mean "rebut" (to contradict something or argue against it). There will be cases in which that's a minor concern. Let us suggest that a senior official denying that the board over which that official presides has actually done something it's been rumored to have done is not such a case. Especially when it's couched in terms like:

"None of that happened. None, none, none," said Hannah Gage, the board's chairwoman. "I can assure that none of that happened. That hasn't been part of any discussion we've had."

For those of you who don't keep up with the stuff Carolina does before basketball season starts, the football coach is on a bit of a slippery slope over the situation* involving, hem-hem and inter alia, a bit too much familiarity between his staff and the world of professional sports agentry. I'm overall a bit less worried about that than about the sheer proportion of reporting resources being dumped into the scandal, as opposed to, oh, the sort of wars and rumors-of-wars that journalists ought to be paying attention to. But all that aside, we ought to be perking our ears up whenever people in power say "None, none, none."

She may be right, she may be crazy. Our job is to make sure we don't stack the deck in advance by, oh, letting Carolina "refute" stuff while Duke or Clempson has to "rebut." On this one, you may stomp around and be as prescriptivist as you want.

* Can't speak to the situation at the originating paper, but at the Obs in its glory days, one consulted up the ladder before declaring in print that something was a "scandal." 

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Metaphor(s) of the week

Cancer is cured, peace breaks out across the Fractious Near East, and ZOMG Detroit is poised to become the Greatest Sports City in the history of the world in space!

Naturally this front-page-dominating event calls for reams of analysis by all the best columnists, producing this splendid burst of metaphoric cliche overload:

First, a couple of caveats. This cake ain't baked yet. If the two parties can't seal a deal in 30 days, Mrs. D can hit the reset button. And yes, the Detroit economy remains mired in muck, making any financial gambit a bit of a crapshoot.

Once you find the reset button on the cake, you might want to look up "gambit." It's a crapshoot almost by definition: an offer of material in return for a potential advantage in space or time. Grrr.

On the bright side, at least no one appears to have left the cake out in the rain.

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No. 1 seed

And how stands the state of popular culture at the Newspaper of Record? Well, the spaghetti tacos -- they're an Internet sensation!* -- rate a reefer on the front. And inside:

A Reporter’s Notebook article on Monday about the trial of four men on charges of plotting to bomb synagogues in the Bronx quoted incorrectly from comments by the judge, Colleen McMahon. Judge McMahon, speaking of her preference for brevity, said, “My goal in life is to pare words from overly long, redundant, verbose, disorganized charges that have grown like Topsy over time.” She did not say “grown like top seed.” (“Grow like Topsy” is a reference to a character in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” who says at one point, “I spect I grow’d.”)

This is from the category of "telephone" errors: the process by which "human resources" become "human race horses," as some of you Usual Suspects will recall. From such tiny seeds do great eggcorns grow.

* "Mom blogs and cooking websites are filled with recipes," to be precise.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Best of the weekend, you say?

Well, that's what the N&O says, and the N&O wouldn't lie, would it?

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to hire nine Ebonics translators for the Southeast region briefly reignited a 40-year debate over whether African-American speech constitutes a separate language.


Look. Here's a suggestion for the N&O and the rest of the purportedly liberal media who ran this drivel.* Don't try to score points by stoking the outrage-meter Fox style. Fox isn't going to return the favor by acting like a grownup medium. Just don't bother. (The lede's patently false, by the way -- the "decision" did no such thing as what's attributed to it -- but we'll get back to that in a moment.)
Read more »

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Grammar at work and play

Seems like a good time to talk about grammar, doesn't it? Stylebook mavens are up to their usual tricks:

You recently said in an Ask the Editor that "civil rights movement" should not be capitalized. If that's the case, shouldn't "civil rights" be hyphenated? It was not a rights movement that was civil, it was a civil-rights movement.

And Rev. McIntyre, having created an Internet sensation about drawn attention to grammar teaching* at the World's Baddest J-school, has offered some well-observed and pointed thoughts about what we do -- and ought to be doing -- in the introductory editing classroom:

I am not talking about arcana, either. I have to make sure that they understand what a clause is. I ask, and they look blank. So there is a quantity of basic stuff to go over. The students who have studied a foreign language are usually a little quicker to pick this up.

But I also have to help them unlearn things. You can depend on it that several students in every class will have been instructed that ending a sentence with a preposition is wrong, that splitting infinitives is wrong, and that the passive voice has something to do with the verb
to be and is very wicked.

That's a lot to do in a semester -- more precisely, as John notes, in the first few weeks, because we still haven't made room for heds and cutlines and libel and privacy and news services and page design and Twittering and ... well, what do you do when you sit down for the first time to "edit" a story all the way through, anyway?

"Grammar" is the start of it all, though. If you don't know what a relative clause is, you won't understand why heds aren't found in relative clauses -- and, by extension, why those red marks on your hed assignments grow increasingly curt as the semester wears on. If you can't find simple subjects and simple verbs, you're going to confuse "Smith shot Jones" with "Police say Smith shot Jones," and you deserve your nasty, brutish and long day in court. Grammar is the wiring diagram of everything we do: If you can't tell what you're saying, you don't know if you've said it.

Here's the real-life example that got me started this morning. The editor of the dominant local fishwrap is explaining -- anecdotally -- how the upcoming improvements to the Web interface will make your news experience totally, vastly, better:

Forty years ago, when I was reporting for the Paper for Central Wisconsin, there were two ways to get information pub­lished by the newspaper — any newspaper.
Read more »

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Khan do

The Newspaper of Record might want to think about adding this one to its Edgar Allan Poe list:

An article on Sept. 19 about technology in the classroom misspelled the name of a Web site that offers online tutorials in various subjects. It is Khan Academy, not Kahn.

The two main rules for heading off spelling corrections:

1) If you don't know how to spell it, look it up
2) If you're sure you know how to spell it, look it up anyway


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Yes and no

Here's a hed that tries to do a little too much and ends up as a pretty thorough failure. Let's look.
Read more »

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Christmas morning coming down

Today's diversity lecture is about not making stupid assumptions on behalf of your audience. Oh, and the bit about cliches too.

Truth be told, Your Editor is sitting here with a pint watching preseason hockey on the teevees. It's the ESB from the nearest local, which is a great day-in, day-out beer. But for some reason Bell's made enough of its Oktoberfest that the stores didn't all run out in early September, so that's in the fridge for backup, because we haven't picked up any of the seasonal from the next nearest local, which also usually produces the best pilsner in town, except for that one-off at Lily's (the third-nearest local) a year and a half ago that was like sitting on the banks of the Elbe.*

Leaving aside all the Old World grapes and New World grapes and single-malts like being slapped across the face with a Hibernian sponge soaked in iodine, yes: I will take a drink every now and then. Hence my amazement at this bizarre frontpage story, in which my happiness appears to have hinged on the ability to buy the stuff on Sunday mornings. So dear Capitol Bureau chief and dear morons who approve the 1A ledes, no. This legislative achievement is of no concern to me. None. This is not a story about Christmas coming early for drinkers. This is a story about Christmas coming early for ...

Ellen Belanger, manager of the Park Bar near Comerica Park and Ford Field in Detroit, said the new law could be a boon for business on game days.

If you are a drinker, then, you may continue to wait until 5, or 7, or 10:59, or the next day or week, as you wish. This is not a measure about the pleasures of drinking. It's about selling drinks at 11 on Sunday morning. Those who would pontificate on the front pages of newspapers would do well to learn the difference. And to stop saying "Christmas in September," while they're at it.

* Not too far from where Your Editor watched the US-Iran match in the 2006 World Cup, as it turns out.

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