Thursday, November 1, 2007

Little Things Reveal a Lot

The details throughout the newspaper tell readers whether the folks who put out the paper care -- nor not -- about what they do. Are editors reading copy before hitting the send key? Does anyone backstop the new kid on the block? When a headline like yesterday's Web embarrassment is posted, "Quake! California is shake 'n' bake state," we readers learn the newspaper staff is more interested in getting its giggles than in producing grown-up journalism.

Synonyms that aren't

Local head: U.S. seeks European sanctions vs. Iran.
Please tell the kids who design the pages that "vs." does not equal "against" in this context.

It’s the AP’s turn

After an incoherent, non-sequiter to set the stage, an AP story reports 283 war vets who came home between Oct. 7, 2007 and the end of 2005 took their own lives, making “a homecoming suicide pattern of a magnitude that is just starting to emerge.”

But the numbers are “not dramatically different from society as a whole.” In response the VA is “ramping up suicide prevention programs.”

I’m not downplaying the tragedy of suicide or the need to prevent every single one. But as a reader, I don’t see the news. If the emerging magnitude is not dramatically different from the rest of the population, that’s actually a pretty good thing, given the stress of war and the trauma of service.

One Doesn’t

“One in 60 older people may be walking around with benign brain tumors and don’t know it.”

One don’t? Yes, you may edit the AP. The very best copy editors do it every day.

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