Editing commentary

Quote of the day

May 17, 2004
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My, this sounds familiar: Something odd happens to a lot of people when they join an editorial board. They stop hearing the music. Instead of the chaotic mix of rock ‘n’ roll, rap, Bulgarian folk music, and God knows what else most people hear from life, it all becomes the seamless pomposity of a...

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Unfortunate layout of the moment

May 14, 2004
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Unfortunate layout of the moment

Saw this priceless juxtaposition on the New York Times homepage tonight and figured I’d better save it for posterity before proper authorities are alerted. Note the U.S. soldier guarding a Shiite mosque. Now note the headline below, about the "newest Gay Mecca." Folks, it don’t get much better (that is to say, worse) than...

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Searing indictment of the press

May 14, 2004
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I know, why are indictments always searing? OK, anyway: I just finished reading an Atlantic Monthly article about the dark art of digging dirt on political rivals. The story talks about how it crippled the Dean campaign and wounded the Gore campaign (why is it Republicans are so much better at it?) … but...

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Good old days, revisited

May 4, 2004
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Cynthia Cott enthuses over three of the towering news people of the 20th century: Ed Murrow, A.J. Liebling and Mary McGrory. A nice read, but just once I’d love one of these homages to times past to concede that the qualities of a few superstars do not symbolize their era. The stars are the...

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On getting closer to the action

April 29, 2004
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This morning I read an article about wireless access at the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark. It interviews the Giants’ chief technology officer, who explains that the team got religion on WiFi when it learned that SBC (the park’s namesake these days) would pay to install it at the stadium. The interview is fine but...

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Surviving a redesign

April 22, 2004
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In honor of the sad sacks on the Denver Post’s copy desks (see post below) who are about to have their lives ripped apart in the name of prettier pages, I’ve decided to throw together Seven Tips for Copy Editors to Survive a Redesign. 1) Get with the program. I know this is hard,...

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When pictures become news

April 19, 2004
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Newsdesigner shows the Seattle Times Sunday front page. I’m guessing it took the editors at the Times about three thousandths of a second to decide on their lead art. The objective description: some people in an airplane’s cargo hold tend to a bunch of boxes decorated by American flags. No drama, no emotion, no...

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Tim Porter posts, at long last

April 19, 2004
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He’s been away for a few weeks … today he weighed in on why management is so crappy at so many newspapers. I have become increasingly convinced in the last few months, however – persuaded by interviews with dozens of editors, reporters and heads of journalism training organizations for a couple of projects I...

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Why Travis is mad about Bob

April 16, 2004
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Travis Smith raves on a speech by Bob Cauthorn, the San Francisco Chronicle’s former online boss. Bob is a Journalist. He’s a reporter. He said that he still looks out at the city of San Francisco and thinks about all the millions of stories there are, and all the people with things happening to...

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On covering barbarism

April 1, 2004
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I’ve had a lump in my throat most of the past 24 hours while trying to make sense of the Iraqi jubilation over the dead, burnt bodies of Americans. I can’t help wonder what moves people to such depravity, what silences the inner voice telling people the terror I visit on others today will...

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