Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dr. Wordsmith will be missed

While I was gone, John Means sent out his last "The Village Wordsmith" from the San Antonio Express News. (Here's an example, his last online column I can find.)

With Vol. XI, No. 9, Means penned his farewell:

The first issue of the Village Wordsmith saw light in April 1997. It talked about the difference between convince and persuade, then-congressman and former congressman, copspeak and several other malapropisms that appeared (and sometimes still do) in the columns of the San Antonio Express-News.
And for the next 10 years and a bit more, Dr. Wordsmith has tried to lead Express-News writers and editors on the paths of righteousness as defined by the Associated Press and Express-News style books, the dictionary and countless English teachers at elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities – many of whom are on this publication’s mailing list and some of whom have graciously contributed examples of our writers’ shortcomings. We’re grateful for all such observations.
Thanks to a retirement offer from the Express-News’ Mohogany Row, this is our last offering. It’s been a delightful decade, pointing out as humorously as possible the foibles of my co-workers.
Means becomes another on the list of clear, concise and often humorous newsroom commentators on journalists and their language who are headed off into the sunset. (John Rains at Fayetteville, for instance, is now posting infrequently.)

It's a shame. At a time when copy-editing functions are being reduced and line editing is being sucked into the production maw, such commentators are needed more than ever to, as means said, point out our foibles.

All the best, John. All the best. I will miss the enjoyment of seeing the e-mail telling me another of your fine newsletters had arrived.

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