Thursday, March 24, 2005

Copy editing and credibility

Think poor copy editing can't affect a newspaper's credibility? Think again.

I was reading a ruthless review of Ken Tucker's "Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy" today, and I couldn't help but make it relate to my profession.
I won't mince words: this is one of the worst-written, most atrociously edited books I've ever had the misfortune of spending money for. In fact, if I'd merely checked this book out of the library, I'd still feel ripped off. Some of Tucker's run-on sentences are spliced together more than a past-due film school project, which explains why there are multiple sentences in this book without either a subject or a predicate. If the author can't keep track of what a sentence is supposed to be about, how is the reader supposed to?

This book's copy-editing sins go far beyond tortured grammar, however. Who signed off on a chapter heading like "Schlock Forgotton: Silk Stalkings"? The factual errors in this book range from mild (referring to the detectives on "Miami Vice" as "Crockett and Stubbs") to preposterous (referring to one of John Larroquette's "Night Court" co-stars, who is still very much alive, as "the late Richard Moll"). ...

The fault doesn't entirely lie with Ken Tucker, however. Authors make mistakes all the time; book editors are supposed to catch them. That's what they get paid for. But the sheer volume of errors in Kissing O'Reilly makes me wonder if anybody at St. Martin's Press even bothered to read Tucker's manuscript before publication.
Want more on credibility? Read this.


At 7:32 PM, March 26, 2005, Blogger aparker54 said...

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