Tuesday, May 03, 2005

desk notes

GRRRR: "Lee Lockhart, owner of Main Squeeze, came to Columbia for a reason" (1A Tuesday). This would be the Leigh Lockhart we wrote about March 6, Feb. 10, Feb. 9, Sept. 28, Sept. 22 and Sept. 15 (twice), to name a few?
This is an awful lot of story -- hence an awful lot of work -- to be effectively torpedoed from the first word by a misspelled name. Given how regularly the businessperson in question appears in our pages, it would have been nice to rescue the clip for the writer.
Unlike its living, breathing counterparts, Rogers Street probably isn't going to roll its eyes at becoming "Roger Street" in the lede of the neighboring story ("Central area slated for face-lift"). That one illustrates the importance of always having a map at your side as you edit (indeed, the accompanying graphic gets it right). Both of them should cause us to wonder why readers who know these folks, and drive on these streets, should expect us to get other stuff right.

RTFS: A reminder to read all of a sentence before drawing on it for a hed. The c-deck on "Abu Ghraib private gives guilty plea" reads "Soldier accused of prison abuse could get 11 years in prison." That's not what the story says:
"The charges carry up to 11 years in prison, but prosecutors and the defense reached an agreement for a lesser sentence ... she will get the lesser of the jury's sentence or the term agreed on in the plea bargain."

SPEAKING OF WHICH: Given that the bulk of 4A is devoted to gender-stereotype-busting, is there any particular reason we let the AP indulge in the antediluvian sexism of that story's lede: "Pfc. Lynndie England, the young woman pictured grinning and giving a thumbs-up ..."?
Easy point first: Why waste a word calling her "young," which is a matter of opinion, when the next graf gives her exact age, which isn't? Second, given that her gender is clear from both her given name and the feminine pronoun later in the sentence, how come she's "the young woman" rather than "the reservist" -- or something else that adds information rather than being shocked! shocked! at the idea of women in uniform?

AND SPEAKING OF WHICH: Across from the very same aforesaid Page 4A, how come the folks who are "Steve and Lana Jacobs" in the first graf are "Jacobs and his wife" in the second graf? We have a rule on how to handle cases like this precisely so we don't have to guess, and guess wrong.
They are, of course, the Jacobses, not "the Jacobs," when appearing on second reference (graf 5) as a pair. And "Columbia activists and St. Francis House directors Steve and Lana Jacobs" violates a couple of good precepts for handling titles: Never double a title before a name, and if a title is longer than four words, put it after the name.
That would have left an equally bad lede: " Steve and Lana Jacobs, Columbia activists and St. Francis House directors, staged an Iraq war protest at MU on Monday evening. " So the best answer is to simplify: "Columbia activists Steve and Lana Jacobs staged... " or "two Columbia activists staged..." You don't have to put the kitchen sink in every lede.


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