Testy biz news copy editor says cut the enthusiasm
By Phillip Blanchard
There’s a new way to order doughnuts.
Nowhere in this AP story is there a hint of anything other than enthusiasm for a navigation app that lets people “purchase coffee and other items” for pickup.
Imagine that! What a world!
You can’t buy this kind of advertising.
I understand (but disapprove of) puff pieces about local businesses. I do not understand why AP moves stories like this, which are likely to be picked up nationwide by lazy editors.
Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection March 28. The Post story appeared online the next day, as did the Journal report.
Both proclaimed the venerable company to be “storied.”
“Storied” is a hopeless cliché. That it was used at least twice to describe Westinghouse arouses suspicion. It’s hard to tell in what order the stories were posted. Maybe the cliché is ingrained in the writers’ minds. Or perhaps someone saw it first elsewhere and thought it was the perfect cliché.
Regardless, editors should have eliminated it.
Reporters are notoriously bad with numbers. For example, I can’t remember how many times business reporters asked my copy desks how to figure percentages. To be fair, a lot of editors also could use refreshers in simple arithmetic.
“Numbers in the Newsroom,” from Investigative Reporters and Editors, is a valuable resource. Yes, it explains how to understand percentages (“Repeat this: ‘Percents are fractions. Fractions are percents.’”) It goes much further, though. Especially helpful are sections on interpreting “economic impact statements,” polls, budgets, tax rates, and even the probability of winning lotteries.
Buy it. It shouldn’t break you.
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. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.