Testy Biz Copy Editor: Too much of this going around
Farewell columns are always tiresome. This one is especially so. This guy was a financial editor once, but it’s clear that he didn’t like it much.
It’s a dirty secret that many business editors get their jobs because no one else wants them and it’s a “take it or leave it” proposition. To do this job properly, your head must be in the game. The sad state of many business pages can in many cases be attributed to editors who would much rather be doing something else.
It’s still just another number: Much has been made lately about the “record highs” recorded by the stock market. Despite our best efforts, everyone is ignoring the fact that 25,000 is just another number. (The stocks listed in the Dow Jones industrial average change all the time, so such comparisons are apples-and-potatoes.) Anyhow:
That’s from a column encouraging parents to get their children involved in the stock market (questionable advice, but that’s another matter). Our point is that there is nothing noteworthy about 25,000. But everyone makes a big deal about the Dow’s “record-setting” achievement every time it hits another increment of 1,000.
It would take great restraint to skip the breathless reporting on these pointless “milestones.” It would also display insight.
(It bears repeating that the Dow is not the stock market, just as the stock market is not the economy.)
Speaking of “so what”: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is dropping not only “stores,” it’s also dropping the hyphen effective Feb. 1. How this qualifies as news is a mystery.
More free advertising: “For the third year in a row, REI is shutting down its stores — and its website — on Black Friday.
The outdoor goods chain says it is doubling down on efforts to back away from the commercial frenzy by giving people “a moment to take a breath.” Instead of hitting the malls, the company says shoppers should go for a hike. (Washington Post)
It might have been news of a sort when REI did it the first time. Not now.
Here’s the kind of story that should never appear: reporting what is essentially rumor, based on reports attributed to anonymous sources in other media. Do the work yourself, and get someone to say it on the record. If you can’t, wait until something happens.
This would be doubly true in this instance, considering that the Kansas City Star’s circulation area has a lot of people who work for Sprint.
Empty quote of the week: “DFJ’s culture has been, and will continue to be, built on the values of respect and integrity in all of our interactions. We are focused on the success of our portfolio companies, as well as the long-term vision for the firm and will continue to operate with the highest professional standards.” (Los Angeles Times)
Phillip Blanchard is a former business editor at the Washington Post. Previously he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times and newspapers in upstate New York. He is founder of Testy Copy Editors.