The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Does anyone read AP copy before it's sent? (Or put in the paper...)
There has in Britain been an explosion in the incidence of hospital-caused disease (MRSA, in particular) over recent years: discussions I've heard usually put this down to the simplest conceivable cause: doctors (and others) have stopped washing their hands between each patient .
The comparable precaution in journalism: reading the damned copy before it gets published! Some of the tasks of newspaper editing take years of experience on the job: reading is surely not one of them.
Yet clearly no one either from AP or the San Francisco Chronicle read the headline on this story:
Bush urges gay marriage ban; Democrats accuse him of pandering
Reference to a dictionary would have revealed in thirty seconds flat that the primary meaning of the word pander is
a : a go-between in love intrigues b : PIMP
Ordinarily, one would take the more common, metaphorical meaning as read.
A copy-editor with the least bit of nous would have seen that the context might invite the reader to consider the literal one. In particular, to wonder whether the ancient AP or august Chronicle might be attempting some kind of feeble sophomoric play on words between the two meanings. And to waste time trying to figure out exactly where the jest was supposed to lie.
It was only on January 12 that we were talking about the long internal AP list of contact phone numbers which was put out as a wire story.
This clearly could only have happened if nobody at all had read the piece before it went out.
My guess is that, with the pandering piece, much the same thing happened at the AP end as with the contact list; and that the Chronicle pretty much slaps AP product on its site as it comes in, so no one thought to check it over first there either.
At least Brer Coughlin is trying - and very much in both senses of the word this time! Seems to me that neither AP nor the Chronicle gives a flying one!
The hed is the Chronicle's alone, it seems.
Pander is used by AP (also here under the byline of Deb Reichmann):
Democrats accused Bush of pandering to right-wing supporters and tinkering with the Constitution
Perhaps it is an AP house joke?
Another AP piece - no byline - has the Log Cabin Republicans accusing
Bush of "pandering to the radical right" and "writing discrimination into the Constitution."
No English majors among the LCRs then.
A real bareback ride...
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