Thursday, May 04, 2006

You just copy edited your last matter of taste

Mickey Kaus, writer of the "Kausfiles" Washington/NYTimes/Cars/Andrew Sullivan gossip blog, points to an email correspondance from businessweek.com regarding headline writing and copy editing.

"New Products" director Charles DuBow wrote to the businessweek.com copy editing chief:

I guess I wasn’t clear yesterday in my emails to you re heds and deks. When I take the time to write heds and deks I expect them to run, barring factual errors.

The heds that the copy desk provided for two of my stories today — “The Roadster of Brit Pride” and “Nissan’s Bulked Up Family Truck” — were poor.

I have been writing and running heds and deks on Forbes.com for nearly 10 years and generated hundreds of millions of page views per year. I have great experience in this field and know the value of the right heds and deks. The reason I am here to do replicate the success I had at Forbes.com. By changing the heds and deks, you impede that.

Starting today, please be sure to not alter my heds or deks, except in cases of grammar problems, word count or factual error.

(A commenter wrote, below this, "Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.")

In response to the DuBow email, Mickey Kaus chimes in, saying "I'm with DuBow":

In the formula:
Mistakes entrenched copy editors catch - (mistakes they introduce + good language they kill + delay they introduce (including delay of trying to stop them from killing good language) + their salaries) = X
X is usually a negative number.
Of course, things are a little different in the contexts where Alice and I have done most of our copy editing--at a college newspaper and in a foreign country where English fluency is rare, respectively.