Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Bits and Pieces

A Charlotte Sun senior editor and occasional columnist likes to compile lists of unanswered questions and call it a day's work. OWW thought it would be fun to do the same.

Starting at the bottom: Why is The Journal of Lake Placid running a political cartoon, "Anchors Away," that comments on a story about a motor-boat club on a lake in Springfield, Ill.? (Just to be clear, LP's in Florida. But then, it does have "lake" in its name.)

Why wasn't the almost-last observation, "... the two mediums said psychic ability depended on a healthy imagination ..." the lede in Jen Wulf's story, "A trip to the supernatural side"?

Why didn't a copy editor read David Morris' consumer column before pasting in this morning's irrelevant headline? The report is about the newest victim in the perennial duct-cleaning-and-mold-detection scam. That is not even remotely similar to the perennial too-good-to-be-true story that the kids-in-charge decided would fit.

Second from the top of the side bar: Did the copy desk kids and the file-foto tweens use different templates last night?

And finally, regarding the A1 Top Story: Why didn't anyone notice either of the misplaced modifiers or the missing plural inflection in the fourth sentence of Josh Salman's story about millionaire Republicans elected to the state house? While they made most of their money before being elected to public office, a growing number of local Democrats fear the conservatives have lost touch with the best interest of the region's middle class -- safe-guarding tax breaks for the wealthy on the backs of average workers.

Or its continuation: They point to controversial Gov. Rick Scott as an example of how politics and money can be a dangerous combination. No, "they" don't. Nowhere in the story does the antecedent of "they" point to what the sentence says is being pointed to. The reporter is the only person in the story to mention the governor's name.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Three out of Four Writers Did Not Plagiarize in "Feeling Fit" This Week

Charlotte Sun's "Feeling Fit" tab editor Karin Lillis and SCMG publishers have made it clear: In their shop, plagiarists get second and third chances. Three of their bylines (George, Marlow and Pierce) appear in this week's edition over their newest stories. Since OWW is occasionally accused of never saying anything nice, let the record show that we note, endorse and praise this accomplishment: "Nice work, ladies: You each wrote a story without plagiarizing." I'll be happy to repeat this every time it happens, so stay tuned.

Despite the rehabilitation of three past plagiarists (Once again, "Good work, gals!"), the title of this post should be "Here We Go Again."

Anyone reading "Combating Peripheral Neuropathy" in today's paper will easily detect an extraordinary shift in the last four paragraphs. Pronoun errors suddenly evaporate, dangling modifiers disappear, subject-verb faults go away, and the section is punctuation perfect.

The local editor didn't correct any of the fundamental errors in the copy's main body, so it is safe to assume that detecting a style and focus shift would be too subtle and also escape notice. But the sudden improvement in the copy's quality is notable for another reason.

The notable reason is the paragraphs were written over a year ago by a different writer, polished by a different editor, and published in a different magazine. At "Feeling Fit," the plagiarism continues.

Today's appearance of this and several other local items riddled with typos, common syntax faults and basic grammatical errors suggests that at SCMG, the title of "editor" is a pay grade, not a job description that has anything to do with making copy meet basic FCAT standards.

Monday, August 8, 2011

File Foto Editor Missed This One

The Charlotte Sun's front page file art this morning is an iPhone. The anonymous thumb points readers to the message: YAWNIEbee_FACTzRT @Masturbate2Me I hate when people tell me I don't have a butt

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Plagiarism Diet: A Dash of Internet Copy Salts Dietitian's Feature

There's not much left to say when posting Sun Coast Media Group's 80th plagiarism tag in 48 months, an average of about one failure every two weeks or so in just this one sector of journalism's ethics canon. The editors at Charlotte Sun's weekly tab, "Feeling Fit," don't seem to get it: Writers who plagiarize are unethical and not in a position to be advising anyone about anything.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Internet Peril: Repeating the Errors of Others

The problem with being the resident aw-shucks-ma'am, I'm just the "hometown editor" is that there's no one to edit your copy. If Mat Delaney at The Journal of Lake Placid could scare up an actual copy editor, that discerning eye might help him spell Warren Buffett's name correctly, point out that via the miracles of syntax he has Buffett interviewing himself, and the website he copied with only the barest of attribution has key facts wrong.

The interview Delaney is trying to reference is dated July 7, not July 8 as his source says. Delaney's source seems to be a Website for Dennis Tubbergen, who also misspells Buffett's name. Tubbergen attributes his misdated information to an interview by Alex Crippen. The interview was actually conducted by Becky Quick on CNBC's Squawk Box

Then there's the odd juxtaposition of Tubbergen's suggestion that his personal suggestion to reduce the nation's deficit is a spending reduction that is the "approximate size of the Social Security program and Medicare program combined." But Delaney, after quoting Tubbergen on the details, says he wants lawmakers to "keep their fingers away from Social Security and Medicare." (We'll overlook that the approximation the financial wizard tosses out is low by $4 billion, according to data maintained by the Congressional Budget Office).

Old Word Wolf isn't sure where Mat Delaney dug up Dennis Tubbergen, who claims in a grammatically challenged and weasel-worded "about page" that he lives in West, Michigan, a town we cannot find on a map. Tubbergen claims to be the CEO of a "wealth transfer company," and lists wife and daughters among his professional credentials, but makes no mention of college study, academic degrees, or nationally recognized certificates such as C.P.A. or similar.

OWW brings up all this only to suggest that whenever the "hometown editor" has to write and edit his own copy, occasional subject-object errors go with the territory, but not checking sources and skipping the job of verifying the basics are simply derelictions of duty. (OWW sincerely hopes the nice newsman isn't taking actual financial advice from a guy who can't get the who, what, where, when and how-much parts of a 150-word story on his professional Website right).

Back in the mainsheet ...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Surely, It Wasn't All His Doing

"Polk County Tax Collector Joe Tedder deserves some thanks. After years of shifting more and more of the tax burden onto the shoulders of working families, he is leading a statewide fight to ensure everyone pays their fair share..."

We're sure he didn't do all that shifting by himself.