Misc. for this week

Some links of note:

  • An editor regrets introducing the term “slow bleed” to describe the Democratic strategy on Iraq.
  • Pam Nelson, a copy editor at The News & Observer, is posting some fun quizzes that will test your knowledge of word choice and grammar.
  • Headsup: The Blog wonders whether Strom Thurmond really was as old as Fox News thinks he was.
  • Editors at the AP ban coverage of Paris Hilton. Can they add Britney Spears?

Reversal of fortune

The business school at UNC-Chapel Hill is displeased with a magazine’s rankings. The KenanFlagler Business School, which usually places well in such lists, isn’t among “50 Best Business Schools for Getting Hired” as listed by Fortune.com.

The university has good reason to be upset, as Fortune’s list seems to have mingled data from UNC-CH with that of its rival, N.C. State University. The NCSU School of Management placed 25th. Here’s what the consulting company that helped Fortune put the list together says:

We pride ourselves on our content and are looking into possible inaccuracies that have recently been brought to our attention.

Perhaps this is a lesson about putting too much time, faith and energy into these rankings of colleges, places to live, etc. If magazines and newspapers insist on researching and reporting such lists or writing about those created by others, they should carefully examine the methods and disclose possible shortcomings to readers.

Naming rights and wrongs

You can say this about The Drudge Report: It’s consistent. Once again, Drudge offers a collection of links to reviews of a big (and boring) event. Once again, he uses last names of the TV critics in the headlines — except for Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times. She’s listed by her first name. (More on first names in headlines here.)

I stand by my previous post: Real consistency would be to use the last name of each critic.

The facts and Wikipedia

You may have already heard about Middlebury College’s new policy restricting use of Wikipedia as a source for student papers, but this New York Times story is worth a read because it goes deeper than previous reports.

My academic department, probably like most, has its share of Wikipedia champions and Wikipedia detractors. I’m in the middle, at least for now. I use the site on occasion, but with an increasingly skeptical eye.

In class, I tell my editing students that when checking facts, Wikipedia is OK as a starting point in a search, but it must not be the last stop. (The list of original sources at the end of an entry can be a good trailhead.) But as I see more errors — not just factual, but also grammatical — on Wikipedia, I wonder whether I should follow Middlebury’s lead and forbid any use of the site in the classroom.

Calling all collaborators

A good conversation is under way at Visual Editors: Who does the best alternative story forms?

It started as which designer does them best, but this comment broadened the discussion appropriately:

How can alternative story formats be attributed to an individual designer? I don’t know how it works anywhere else, but ANY alternative story format I’ve ever tried was born from the efforts of editors and reporters, not exclusively me, or even me at all!

Indeed, collaboration is essential for an ASF to succeed. This is where the word people and the visual people need to work together. It helps, of course, to be both a word person and a visual person.

This week’s misc.

  • Ted Vaden, public editor at The News & Observer, discusses the use of racial identification in news stories. Vaden appropriately touches on the themes of relevance and utility in making those decisions. Not everyone, however, is convinced, considering that someone compared Vaden to Stalin in the first comment.
  • C. Michael Curtis, editor of fiction and letters to the editor at The Atlantic, discusses editing, writing and teaching in this interview.