United Concordia doesn’t understand the phrase "open season"

I take the Metro to work each day in Washington, D.C., and as I ascend toward ground level at the Verizon Center, I’ve been passing an advertisement for United Concordia about the savings you can get from its dental plans. Presumably, it’s also open-enrollment season. Thus, you’d think, there could be a way to useContinue reading “United Concordia doesn’t understand the phrase "open season"”

Society’s quality-control problem with editing

Depleted newsrooms are every day illustrating what a lack of copy editing does — a slow sapping of quality and quality control. It doesn’t mean no news is gathered or that the language is destroyed, but the effect might be more insidious. Only the most able-eyed and loudest notice, and their noise is often dismissedContinue reading “Society’s quality-control problem with editing”

Eric Holder and porn: The difference 1 missing word makes

I talk about value-added editing as an unfortunate necessity, in which we have to show why editing and care with writing make our products clearer and better — and at a cost worth incurring. But to do this, we have to act — no one will notice, care or act for us. It risks usContinue reading “Eric Holder and porn: The difference 1 missing word makes”

The laziness of "localizing" news stories

As local and metro newspapers have lost relevance (and staff) outside of their immediate geographic areas, they’ve tried to substitute actually being there with “localizing.” Sometimes, it has relevance, such as when there’s an indigenous population in the area (although the paper should be covering them regularly if they want them as readers, right?), orContinue reading “The laziness of "localizing" news stories”

Headlines are the only things that matter …

… because you won’t get a second chance, your attempts at context will be missed by many, and you’ll lose any notion of control over your content as well as any chance to guide the conversation. This is a fear and opportunity much discussed in social media, but it applies to the content your socialContinue reading “Headlines are the only things that matter …”

3 snapshots of news without editing

A copy desk being reduced or eliminated brings many signs of lower quality, and reporters, too, suffer when their numbers are diminished and they’re forced to “do more with less.” There are two categories of fear for journalists: The big picture, the fear that news isn’t being covered, isn’t being covered well or in enoughContinue reading “3 snapshots of news without editing”

Have you messed up today? 2 items to help you feel better

We all have those days — editors and reporters simply have the mistakes immortalized more easily. Instead of getting too down, have a laugh at these examples of journalism that, if nothing else, put your goof-up into perspective: FarkFunnyOrDie’s (see? an error of my own) collection of the funniest police blotters. Not all are newspaperContinue reading “Have you messed up today? 2 items to help you feel better”

Copy-editing’s future and failings: A roundup

It’s not just a roundup of stupid mistakes, though a few are in there. There’s also some discussion of the craft, where it’s headed, and why. The case for education reform, proved in one billboard: In Indiana, the city of South Bend decided, we’ve got some great public schools. Let’s promote them with a bigContinue reading “Copy-editing’s future and failings: A roundup”

Success and failure can hinge on a single word

Headline mistakes are rarely, in my experience, of a deliberate action. They are almost of an oversight, a mistyping or confusion. And most of the time, it’s but one word or phrase that makes the difference — its spelling, its substitution for the correct word, or its placement. All this places added pressure on copyContinue reading “Success and failure can hinge on a single word”

Headlines 101: Don’t imply that the president may be a lecher

There are generally two kinds of non-libelous headlines that, to me, are a failure of editing: those that convey an entirely incorrect (and often, dirty or offensive) meaning, and those that are just a nonsensical joining of words. Typos and goofiness like on Jay Leno’s “Headlines” segment, are not generally what I mean. Those oftenContinue reading “Headlines 101: Don’t imply that the president may be a lecher”