Posts Tagged ‘John E. McIntyre’

john e mcintyreJohn E. McIntyre has long been a source of wisdom for journalists, particularly colleagues at the Baltimore Sun and fellow copy editors.

He is a founding member (and two-time former president) of the American Copy Editors Society. I knew of him long before I met him, when he led a discussion for a seminar I was planning for news editors and copy desk chiefs at an American Press Institute workshop, probably in 2006 or so.

He’s a guardian of the language who enforces the rules that matter and debunks the ones that don’t. He may be an Old Editor, but he’s also a prolific blogger and podcaster, a witty tweep and he was the first person to point out that I was violating Facebook etiquette early in my social media days by syncing my Twitter and Facebook accounts so that nearly all my tweets posted to Facebook (way too often to post on FB, but an acceptable pace for Twitter).

I’m pleased to see that John has compiled some of his wisdom into a book: The Old Editor Says: Maxims for Writing and Editing.

John does not pretend that all the maxims are original. In the preface he handles attribution deftly:

Some you may find familiar, such as the Chicago News Bureau’s, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” some are adapted from the remarks of my own editors, some are from the general lore, and some – many , actually – are my own.”

I should add that I didn’t know the maxim about Mom (which I’ve used a time or two on my blog) had a known origin. It figures that John would know. Even the familiar and adapted maxims are delivered and explained in John’s authoritative voice and with his dry wit. This is very much his book, even if you’ve heard and read some of the wisdom before. (more…)

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John E. McIntyre

I am honored that the Baltimore Sun’s John E. McIntyre, whose blog is a must-read for copy editors, has responded (at my invitation) to my advice for copy editors.

I encourage you to read the full post, A future for copy editors. But I’ll note some highlights here:

  • John supports my call for efficiency in copy editing, telling “middle-initial fetishists” and AP-style cultists to “Stop wasting time on things that don’t matter much.” What does matter? John answers: “Let me remind you that it is possible for an article to be perfectly grammatical and conform to every last guideline in the AP Stylebook and still be dull, unclear, superficial, plagiarized, fabricated, or libelous.”
  • John also agrees with me that copy editors overuse pun headlines that are lost on those humorless search engines: “On the printed page, you have elements, such as secondary headlines, photos, display quotes, and the like, to give a clever headline context.”
  • John and I also agree on the importance of copy editors training themselves in new skills.
  • I won’t quote from John’s private advice to copy editors (he asked the rest of us to step outside for a moment, but I listened through the transom), except to say it was right on the mark.
  • On this, John and I fully agree: “if you are serious about the craft and about continuing to practice it, you will have to take more responsibility for your own career.”

That last point is good advice for every journalist. And it always was.

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