Saturday, August 30, 2008

More From The Post

The ombudsman expresses concern about the evolution of the copy editor's role, as do some reporters. I make a semi-coherent cameo appearance (click on my name and you can read about a dead football coach).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Yet another of my many grievances: How is it that the most editing-intensive job in the newsroom earns you a title without the word "editor" in it? Copy chief sounds like the person in charge of the xerographic reproducification machine. Copy desk chief is a little better, but it still sounds like an administrative if not clerical position. Slot sounds like, well . . .

Monday, August 25, 2008

What He Said

My Post colleague Jeff Baron on what exactly it is that we do:
We all need editors. When we write, we might know what we mean to say, and we become blind to the looseness in our language and the gaps in our facts. Friends will ignore slips in e-mails, but newspaper readers should be able to expect a higher standard.
Keep reading.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Put Away the Branding Iron

We had Bush-Cheney '04, and now we have Obama for America and John McCain 2008. (Given the current air of manufactured mystery, I'm surprised we don't have Obama-???? '08, with Matthew Lesko, or maybe the ghost of Frank Gorshin, floated as a trial balloon.) The campaigns are free to call themselves what they like, and in some sense those names are registered as corporofinancial entities of some sort, but outside of forensic-accounting stories the McCain campaign and the Obama campaign should be referred to as "the McCain campaign" and "the Obama campaign."

Same for such pseudo-brand-name entities as Yoknapatawpha County Public Schools. No matter how nice the logo might be, it's "the Yoknapatawpha County school system" in any dignified publication.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Parental Discretion Is Advised

If you publish and you're imperfect, you'll have errors. If you're also conscientious, you'll have corrections. At McSweeney's, David Copper speculated on what a corrections column in Penthouse Forum might look like. One example:

In the letter "And Wifey Makes Three," the letter writer stated: "My wife was eager to engage in a threesome with me and our incredibly hot 19-year-old babysitter." The sentence should read: "My wife was disgusted, repulsed, and, in every imaginable way, opposed to the thought of engaging in a threesome with me and our incredibly hot 19-year-old babysitter." Nor did the wife "wildly undulate" while seated on the face of the babysitter, or "moan in unending pleasure" as she watched her "superstud" of a husband give the babysitter "a good seeing-to." The letter writer also doesn't fight crime on the weekends from the confines of a secret underground lair.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Spelin Erurs

Another fine LOLcat from I Can Has Cheezburger.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Are You the Bestest?

To celebrate the Oct. 15 release of her book "Things That Make Us [Sic]," Martha Brockenbrough is running a contest to find the best copy editor in the United States.

If you're wondering just how one would measure such a thing, especially given how hard it is to simply find a competent person to fill an opening (remember when we had "openings" to "fill"?), well, so am I, but Martha has her ways. Apparently there's a find-the-errors test, and if you pass that you get to write a little something.

Now, now, don't get too cynical. The contest is in memory of Martha's friend Steve Higgins, a Dow Jones copy editor who died of a brain tumor last year, and 10 percent of the proceeds from the book will go to the Brain Tumor Society.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Web Two-Point-Whatever-We're-at-Now

This will be review for a lot of people, but I tried to round up the various forms my language blogging now takes. I've also cleaned some cobwebs off the home page of The Slot.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Rules Grammar Change

This just in (well, over the weekend) from Onion Radio News.

Blogrolling in Our Time

Boy, do I miss Spy magazine. But anyway ...

In the Web tradition of pointing readers where they should be pointed, competition be damned, the New York Times' usage site points people to The Slot. And I return the favor. This is a nicely done page.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hi, Tech!

Now that I've invited you to join the cause on Facebook, allow me to introduce The Slot on Twitter. It's taken me a while to warm to the Twitter concept, even though it's basically like my favorite part of Facebook, the status update, writ large.

But this seems to be what all the kids are doing, and so -- let's call it an experiment -- I've decided to do my tweet-tweet-tweeting not about the fact that I'm at Nationals Park or I can't wait for "Mad Men" to start, but rather about usage-related stuff too small to blog about. You'll notice a new module on the right side of the Blogslot page (though it doesn't always work), but you can also follow my feed on the Twitter site or on your mobile computing device or, heck, maybe your jet packs or your tattoos (but check the site just to be sure).

If you were already signed up, you would have heard me tweeting recently about the cruelly ironic squeeze on the dwindling numbers of copy editors, and the fact that nobody seems to include the CUNY part in references to Baruch College, and unforced errors by tennis commentators, and some insistent queries about the Burma-vs.-Myanmar dispute. Oops -- I guess that last part is far from being too small to blog about. Maybe someday.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

It's Not Scrabulous, but ...

If you're on Facebook, you can sign up as a "fan."

Friday, August 01, 2008

And Don't Call Me on My Cell

At left is a laptop. At right is a laptop computer. Go ahead and abbrev. away, go ahead and noun the darn adjective, go ahead and save your precious energy, in conversation, or in a Best Buy ad, or in a headline, or on second reference. All that is perfectly fine. Even I do it. But style and decorum dictate that you supply the actual noun at least once if you're writing anything even moderately formal for a general audience.