If you're going to be snotty book-reviewer type, you've got to have the facts right.
Alas, Heller McAlpin had one fact dramatically wrong when she declared yesterday in the lead of her Boston Globe review of Christopher Buckley's memoir, Losing Mum and Pup:
Oh boy, William F. Buckley Jr. must be rolling in his Sharon, Conn., grave. … [H]is only son, Christopher, came
out in a Daily Beast column this past fall with, “Sorry, Dad, I’m
Voting for Obama”—a defection that led to his readily accepted
resignation from the New Republic, the conservative magazine his father
started in 1955 and for which dad wrote 5,600 columns.
Well if he wasn't rolling at the Obama vote, he was rolling at his magazine, The National Review being mixed up with the liberal magazine, The New Republic (whose founders were probably also rolling, albeit to the left).
Those who would cast stones at McAlpin have obviously never had a similar brain cramp.
No, the problem is a lack of copy editors. This is the kind of mistake that almost surely would have been caught by a pair of well-educated, well-trained fresh eyes—the kind that newspapers have been laying off in droves. (Getting their asses kicked by blogs and freewheeling online media, newspapers respond by cutting one of the job functions that distinguish themselves from blogs and online media.)
As a young writer I laughed at some of the copy editors and proofreaders who I worked with. Behind their backs, I called them the placekickers of the editorial football team. I pointed out that they're often misfits, with nervous ticks and odd rashes. And I denigrated their contribution as trivial.
I don't do that anymore.
Immature people characterize quality control as "anal." Immature societies do too.
One of the best things a writer or communicator can do is have someone else review their message, story, etc., because that third party will catch something the writer did not. Why? Because the writer is too close to the subject.
By being too close to the subject, I meant the writer has stared at the words way too long and may inadvertently miss something.
Eileen B. says
I totally agree…copy editors are worth millions.
Ron Shewchuk says
Good copy editors can make okay writers good and good writers great. It is very sad to see the gradual decay of daily newspaper journalism. And you’re right – papers are cutting back on the things that make them readable. Something good will emerge from this train wreck, but what and when?