Tuesday, January 20, 2015


News Note: Gannett kills copy desks

“It is not just the loss of copy editors’ attention to niceties of spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage, and house style that made the published prose look reasonably polished and professional. It is the loss of people whose specific task was to raise awkward questions. Is this clear? Is this right? Is this plagiarized? Is this libelous? Is this a story? Is this true?”

—John E. McIntyre, columnist, on word that the Cincinnati Enquirer and other newspapers are eliminating copy editors, “And then there were none,” The Baltimore Sun, Nov. 23, 2014  

Editorial Comment: Hello, Sun copy desk, shouldn’t that be, “And then there was none. . . .”?

PeezPix by Ted Pease 
Short Skiff Stack


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Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard



  1. "None" is either a singular or a plural pronoun, and has been since Normans were seducing Saxon girls. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Englis Usage, exposing the superstition that "none" is only a singular, cites a plural use by Alfred the Great in A.D. 888.

    1. I will humbly accept your interpretation, John—it’s your quote and newspaper, after all. But I disagree with you and the Normans, who were interest in other matters than grammar as they pursued screaming Saxons. But unless engaged in similar activities, I’ll stick with none as a contraction of “not one.”

  2. Which is worse? Readers stop taking the paper b/c it's so thin/bad? Or those readers that remain don't notice.

    I'm teaching copy editing again this semester. One wonders why I should infect these kids with heightened sensitivites when they’ll never be employed as editors. They'll just turn into embittered readers who yell at the newspaper on the kitchen table.