Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Words of advice

Here's five years of Testy Copy Editor knowledge boiled down to seven points. (Or, here are the only seven things we agree on.)
  1. There is no such thing as a miracle.
  2. We do not refer to soldiers as "peacekeepers."
  3. We do not show stories to anyone outside the newspaper before publication.
  4. Newspapers published in English use headlines written in English.
  5. We do not allow people to render their names as logos.
  6. The term "black box" serves no useful purpose. Use "flight data recorder" and "cockpit voice recorder."
  7. Dictionaries are the second-to-last refuge of scoundrels.
Just to prove that I'm the pedant you all expect me to be, it's No. 5 that gets me the most riled up -- probably because it just seems so easy that I can't understand why I ever see it wrong. And yet plenty of right-thinking friends will argue against it. I can do nothing but change it at work and pull my hair out at home.

J.A. Montalbano's made plenty of good arguments about why U.N. peacekeepers are really U.N. soldiers. Consider this from a Testy ACES handout (pdf):
International forces deploy soldiers. Avoiding this euphemism saves you one day from writing the headline "Peacekeeper fatally shoots mother, 2 children." If you must make it clear, for some reason, that France is not invading Haiti, and need to explain the purpose of the mission, say the troops or soldiers are there to "police" the region.
Anyone disagree?


At 11:02 PM, September 14, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 6:59 PM, September 15, 2005, Blogger Phillip Blanchard said...

You have a fan. How nice.

At 8:51 PM, September 19, 2005, Blogger Nicole said...

It's fun to know graphic designers.


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