Link and respond

Some random links and thoughts on each:

ITEM: Democratic candidate John Edwards dismisses the phrase “war on terror” as a “bumper sticker” slogan.

THOUGHTS: Copy editors have been ahead of Edwards on this one. As advocates for specificity, we like narrowly tailored labels, not vague generalizations. “War on terror” has become so overused that it’s an easy target for parody, as the “Borat” movie showed when the titular character told a rodeo crowd: “We support your war of terror.”
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ITEM: Star Tribune editor Nancy Barnes discusses reorganization and cutbacks at the Minneapolis paper.

THOUGHTS: I worked with Nancy more than 10 years ago when I was the copy editor in The News & Observer’s bureau in Chapel Hill and she was the assigning editor there. We also worked together later in the Raleigh newsroom. She’s a dedicated editor when it comes to local coverage, but despite her obligatory statements in this interview, she doesn’t think much of national or international news. Also, it would have been nice to see her mention the role of copy editing as newsrooms change.
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ITEM: A letter writer wants more coverage of math contests and less about offbeat competitions such as “rock, paper, scissors” tournaments.

THOUGHTS: The reader is asking a lot of a regional paper, albeit increasingly local, to cover events like this. The problem: Math contests are routine and not of tremendous interest to anyone not participating. The solution: Find stories with similar content but have an element of oddity or human interest, such as this one about how geometry and miniature golf intersect.

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2 thoughts on “Link and respond

  1. I wish copyeds had been ahead of anybody on the “war on terror” thing. What the record tends to show, though, is that (with a couple of anecdotal exceptions), they were as eager as anyone to grab hold of that frame. And USA Today really doesn’t seem to have budged very far from the early benchmark of 2001.

    Nobody at the White House held a gun to people’s heads and told them to run Iraq stories under the “WAR ON TERROR” page label back in 2002. We — by which I mean a really annoying percentage of American papers — came up with that ourselves.

  2. I guess my paper was one of the anecdotal exceptions. We were pretty careful about that. A colleague on the desk who was a former Marine was especially vigilant.

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