30 September 2010

Local newspaper needs better editing

It's been a busy month, and it's been tough to find time to get anything posted, but I thought I'd start things back up with something very nit-picky, very curmudgeonly, and take a look at copy editing in a local newspaper.

Luckily, the papers published by Capital Community News are a veritable treasure trove of errors. A series of rotating contributors must certainly make it difficult for the editors. Without an established writing style to grow used to, it can be difficult to know what kind of errors to expect from one's authors.

The first in this series comes from the August 2010 [PDF] issue of the Hill Rag, which covers the greater Capitol Hill part of the city. The author appears to have difficulty with homophones, and I've highlighted three of them in the article below.

"Axel" is used to refer to an automobile part, "base" to discuss low-frequency music notes, and "alter" for a place to make a worshipful offering. It goes without saying that these words don't mean what the author thought they do.

We'll have more in the coming days.


  1. From a 35-year veteran of community newspapers: This is what you get when your business model forces you to pay copy editors so little they can't afford their light bills. No easy solution, but the problem is endemic to smaller newspapers. Please don't blame the copy editors; they're trying their best and should probably never have been hired if they can't do better than what you've highlighted. Blame their bosses for not figuring out how to change in response to -- or, better, in anticipation of -- disruptive changes in the market.

  2. Yeah, Hill Rag has always been rife with errors. That's almost too easy to use them as an example :)

  3. The August issue of the DC North edition of their publications shows 14th Street NW, and a shot of the Studio Theatre with a playbill in the window promoting something "fuck". I was gonna blog it, but I never did.


  4. Richard: Oh boy, I will have to add that to the list of stuff I have to say about their publications. Terribly edited all around.


You can be curmudgeonly too, but let's try to be civil and constructive here, ok?