By Arthur Alpert
My second reporting job was covering small towns for a suburban New York City daily. One evening, an editor called me to his perch and jabbed at holes in my story – one, two, maybe three, I don’t remember anymore.
Of course, I was embarrassed; I’d failed to get some required facts. But heading back to my desk, I walked on air. He cared. He really cared. And, I guessed that meant my own efforts mattered.
It was a big moment in my life. I know that because fifty-some years later, I remember the editor’s name – Dick Blood.
The business is much changed, I know, but editors still matter. Not all will inspire, but reporters and readers are well served if they just question language and sentence construction, catch and kill misspellings and typos.
That’s my conviction, anyway. Judging from its error-filled pages, however, the Albuquerque Journal disagrees.
My last post culled mistakes from three Journal editions. Here are a half-dozen more from just one edition, Thursday, August 25, and one section thereof, “Metro & NM”.
• Headline, C1:
“Ex-Cop Clarifies Block Investigated”, followed by the sub-head, “Witness Said It Was Congressman”.
If the heads weren’t crystal-clear, the lead paragraph confused me further because but it mentioned neither “Block” nor a “Congressman.” (They did make the second paragraph.)
When the story jumped to C2, I found this gosh awful sentence:
“But Segura was murdered in July 2008 and his body found in Santa Fe National Forrest, [sic)] in an unrelated case.
That’s my [sic], referring to the creative spelling of “Forest.” As for the ending – was the “unrelated case” legal or wooden?
• The account of a physician who surrendered his medical license (also in the jump to C2) included this:
“Even with Maron is no longer prescribing, Fine said….”
• Moving right along, a story on C2 gauged the State Investment Council’s progress drafting a code of conduct. One member suggested breaking the code into two, “one outlining members’ officials duties and the other….”
What can I say?
• And I read a “Journal Staff Report” from Las Cruces three times and still didn’t understand. Oh, I got close, but no cigar.
One day, one section.
A couple of years ago, I was reading a Jimmy Breslin memoir and chuckled when he spoke warmly of – you guessed it – one Dick Blood.
A good editor is worth his or her weight in gold, but any editor would improve the Journal.