The “voluntary separation program” is done at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. An AJC memo posted at Romenesko reports that about a dozen copy editors are leaving, as is movie critic Eleanor Ringel.
“The boys are back in town!” proclaimed the announcer on a Raleigh radio station. He was reporting this morning on the return of three Duke University lacrosse players to the Triangle. They’re back for an announcement on the sex-assault case.
Radio and cable TV will undoubtedly be talking about “the boys” a lot today because all charges have been dropped. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the accused players are adults. They are men, not boys.
You may have already read about yet another ethics blowup regarding news photographs. The Toledo paper ran this correction on this photo of a baseball team because the photographer altered the image. A person’s legs under the “19″ banner were wiped away. The photographer says the altered version was for his own use, but it got into print anyway. He has resigned.
One way to use the photo and eliminate the distracting legs is to crop it from the right side. Yes, you do lose some the banners honoring the fallen players. A careful crop, however, keeps the storytelling value of the photo intact and maintains the dramatic horizontal orientation. And it’s ethical.
I’ve worked in newsrooms where copy editors designed pages and cropped photos. I’ve also worked in newsrooms where the photo desk did the cropping, copy editors edited and wrote headlines, and designers laid out pages. Both systems can work, provided that collaboration is encouraged. Once in a while, the word people can think visually. Maybe they could have done so here.
UPDATE: The Blade’s executive editor explains and apologizes. His column includes examples of more altered photos from the photographer.
A faithful reader of this blog, a thoughtful copy editor at a large metropolitan daily, asks a timely question: What is the plural of “ho”?
Radio host Don Imus said that word — and some others — in describing the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. He’s still dealing with the fallout of yet another botched joke uttered into a microphone. Imus, a broadcaster, didn’t have to spell the word; that’s left to us in print and online media.
“Ho” has many meanings and uses. (“Land ho!” is an example.) The word Imus used is a derivative of “whore,” but it doesn’t appear in print often, at least not in the pages of America’s newspapers and news Web sites. That’s why we are fumbling now. Here are the options:
Seeking precedent, we turn to Google News in search of Imus stories. Consensus is hard to find, however. An AP story on the San Francisco Chronicle site uses “hos,” as does CNN.com. Media Matters, a watchdog group, favors that spelling, as does its rival, NewsBusters. The New York Times story, on the other hand, says “ho’s.” The New York Post and Chicago Tribune go with “hoes.”
Several dictionaries list “hos” and “hoes” as acceptable plurals. The apostrophe seems unnecessary, and even The New York Times is steering away from using them in similar situations.
I like “hoes” because it reads like it sounds. “Hos” could be read by the unwitting as a word that rhymes with “gloss” or “floss.” The “e” in there reduces that potential for confusion. Still, I’m open to persuasion. Anyone want to push for “ho’s” or “hos”?
- whose and who’s
- presents and presence
- right, rite and write
- there, they’re and their
- pore, poor and pour
The example above (from a CNN.com story on the sinking of a cruise ship) is one I haven’t seen before. “Pal” should be “pall.” “Pal” is a friend; “pall” is a sense of gloom. It seems like an odd error to make, especially since the words are not pronounced the same way.
If newspapers are going to ask reporters to add blogging to their duties, why are they not backing them up with a copy editor to oversee their posts? This misspelled headline is an example of the type of careless error that appears regularly on newspaper blogs.
UPDATE: The error was still there — both on the home page and the post — more than 15 hours after it was posted. In print, we would sometimes catch such a “head bust” and correct it between editions.
Deborah Gump, who taught editing at Ohio University for several years, has taken a new job at the Committee of Concerned Journalists. She is the director of print/online. Gump’s superb EditTeach site will live on, and she plans to keep her connections to academia.
Gump’s move to CCJ reminds me what an important organization this is. In late 2001, I attended one of its Traveling Curriculum workshops, representing the wire desk at The News & Observer. The workshop gave us a chance to get out of the newsroom for a couple of days and talk about the issues we faced in our jobs and what our profession faced as a whole.
CCJ membership is free, and I encourage my colleagues in the newsroom and the classroom to consider joining.
The Tribune sale made for some amusingly different headlines in the rival Chicago papers. The Chicago Tribune takes the “yes, we are writing about ourselves” approach. The Sun-Times, on the other hand, looks for the angle that readers care about — and gets in a jab at its competitor. SND has collected more relevant pages here.
TV, meanwhile, yawned at the news.
UPDATE: A copy editor’s look at the sale from the inside.
This recent headline brought back memories of my early days on the desk, working as a copy editor and assistant wire editor at the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. This was the heyday of Manuel Noriega, de facto leader of Panama and thorn in the side of the first Bush administration.
Just about every wire story on Noriega called him a “strongman” — one of those words common in wire copy and headlines but seemingly never used in everyday conversation. It was a useful label for an autocratic leader who was not the formal head of state, but it became a cliche. The United States, of course, ousted the Panamanian strongman in a 1989 invasion, and he was captured and tried on drug charges. The word seemed to fall out of favor as Noriega faded from the headlines.
But “strongman” lives on. Chechnya is unfortunate enough to have a strongman in charge. Here are some other strongmen in the news now and in the past: