Monday, February 27, 2006

Copy editors gone wild

What would you do with this sentence?

"An additional $18 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 4.545 percent."

Would you make that was or were?

See the sometimes bare-knuckle brawl this has unleashed on the American Copy Editors Society's discussion board. Small things like this bring out the best -- and worst -- among us, including a surprising amount of vitriol. See what makes copy editors look like cats in a roomful of catnip. It isn't always pretty.

I just know that Peter Fisk, the Tampa editor who posted that innocent little question, also plays with matches in fireworks factories.

Meanwhile, over at a Capital Idea, Nicole has posted some things she'd like to see the AP give up on in its stylebook. I agree and will have more in my April Common Sense Journalism column's annual suggestion list as AP prepares to issue a new stylebook edition. Meanwhile, enjoy the other CSJ columns. February's is on the little problems "because" can cause us, and March's, to be up in a couple of days, will pose "Four questions for reporters."


At 3/1/06, 3:48 AM, Blogger Peter Fisk said...

Rumor has it that a steel-cage tag-team match has been added to the card at the Cleveland conference to settle the great Treasury securities plurality debate once and for all.

At 3/6/06, 6:48 PM, Blogger Bill said...

I was wondering whether our name badges would be color-coded.

At 3/6/06, 8:03 PM, Blogger Doug said...

I suggested just lining the ballroom with plastic and filling it with mud and then throw everyone in. I was told that was impractical, but commas at 20 paces might be an alternative.


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