Editing “Mallard Fillmore”

by andybechtel

The News & Observer publishes “Mallard Fillmore” on its comics pages each weekday and on Saturday. The politically oriented strip has been the subject of debate among readers, with many stating that it should be on the editorial pages along with “Doonesbury,” not in the features section.

I won’t step into that broader discussion. I would, however, question the decision to publish one of the “Mallard” strips this week.

On Wednesday, “Mallard” poked fun at Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker. That’s fine, but the strip has three problems:

  • It is ungrammatical. In the text of the first panel, the subject and verb “outrage” and “have” do not agree. (Thanks to Grammar Monkeys for pointing this out.)
  • It does not follow AP style. The strip refers to the “Ground-Zero Mosque.” As the AP recently advised, that is inaccurate. The N&O’s editors use the Associated Press Stylebook as their primary reference.
  • It uses anonymous sources. The N&O shuns anonymous sources. Sure, “Mallard” is using them in an attempt at humor, but is that an exception to N&O policy?

If a story from a wire service or a staff writer landed on an editor’s desk at the N&O in this condition, it would not be published on its news pages. Why was this comic strip?

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