Thursday, March 04, 2004


Forget about "same-sex marraige" vs. "gay marriage" for a moment. Consider instead the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's style: Use "gay marraige," and put it in quotes.

The Arkansas Times points out that this is a style used inconsistently and points out these headlines:
A) Gay marriage ban faces 'high hurdle'
B) California judge won't stop 'gay marriage'
C) Gay 'marriage' foes file California suit
D) Democrats weigh death penalty, gay marriage at debate
E) Justices deny state's request to immediately halt gay 'marriages'
So what's the difference? Reporter David Koon called Frank Fellone, D-G deputy editor, to find out. Fellone said the gay marriages taking place in San Francisco aren't legal and therefore aren't actually marriages. They are put in quotes. But the issue of legal gay marriage is different and therefore doesn't get quotes.

We can ignore for a moment that it's a bad idea to use quotes to imply somthing substandard, ironic or so-called. Readers are confused enough about whether something in quotes has been said, if we're trying to emphasize words in quotes as many ads do, or whether we're trying to be funny or imply a double-meaning. There's no need to muddy this further.

But putting gay marriage in quotes border on editorializing. It places the paper in the style-rule company of the Washington Times (not known for its objectivity). And it sounds like a pissed-off manager was able to dictate a silly rule that everyone else is forced to implement, regarldess of the normal channel of style changes.

I don't know whose rule this is, but someone ought to get it changed.

Gay 'style' at the D-G [Arkansas Times]
Copy "editing" [Testy Copy Editors]


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