People notice bad editing, Part 1

Slowly, and perhaps, surely, people are noticing what happens when writing and journalism become disconnected from the art of editing. Some of these people are writers and editors, but many others are not. They’re just people who try to use the English language well, and they expect the same from others.

If this trend, this awareness, were a wave, it would be barely lapping our feet as we stood on the shore. But if it’s anything like a wave, it will grow stronger even if it ebbs and flows.

Here are some of the mentions:

  • Small towns, unhyphenated libraries: This post describes the classic dilemma facing small newspapers — little staff, little news except the sensational that attracts and repels readers — before noting the editing. The money shot, so to speak? A sentence about the new library that, without hyphenation or awareness, creates a book section of pornography. (

  • Two papers merge. Editing is forgotten: This writer takes delight amid frustration in pointing out some of the worst and silliest mistakes Honolulu’s new, merged paper is making. (Disappeared News)
  • An “eke” leaks into the NYT: Frank Rich’s column mistakes “ekes out” for “leaks out” or, simply, “leaks.” (Language Log) 
  • An error? Maybe. Unclear? More likely: There is some debate about this copy editor’s post as to whether she caught an error. The comments offer some persuasive evidence that this was not the case. Still, while the original author appears to be in the clear, the question raised is exactly the type that editors must ask in considering the readers. (Dallas Morning News)
  • No budget for editing: This review of a book on low-budget moviemaking is lambasted in the comments for its sloppy editing, among other issues, in a measured manner and in the Internet’s worst feature, ALL CAPS WRITING. (
  • How many will fail “basic” editing?: Lifehacker is looking for an intern, and while brief, there is a mention of “basic” copy editing. The folks there probably think that ability is a given; they’re likely in for a shock. (Lifehacker)
  • Copy editing. Proofreading. Not identical: Especially in book editing, as this article notes. Especially heartening is its urging that people not consider the two as an “either/or” choice. (

That’s not even close to all the examples I found in a quick search. Stay tuned for more.

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