Please find attached
a flimsy framing metaphor a couple of comments I have, as an editor, on this piece (which, to be clear, I don’t dislike — I laughed in a few spots, which is as much as I can ask for from a humor piece — but rather am sorta puzzled by):
- I don’t mind line edits. I have never minded line edits. I’ve exchanged emails with writers marveling (in a good way) at how thorough and thoughtful the edits to their pieces were, and I’ve exchanged emails with writers terrified that their piece went up with none. Even when I disagree with line edits — which happens! — it’s usually just easier to go along with it than defend every little snowflake in your first draft and get a reputation for being “difficult.” Either way, you get to redraft, maybe catch something you missed before! I joked about it earlier but I’m sort of serious: I would go several thousand dollars into debt to receive this extent of editing regularly. (Solicited, that is. This isn’t a $20-in-the-dissertation joke.) A lot of the joke of this piece is the content (well, the joke’s really more “what if an editor thought a wire piece wasn’t a wire piece?” but still) but a good portion of the joke is “look at all this
redblack text,” and I just… fundamentally don’t get that. Maybe it’s just the writers I talk to, but most of us wish we were edited more.
- The text given isn’t even the text of the article! No one would be editing the sentence ”Civilians in Damascus have been caught in the middle of clashes between government forces and rebels,” like that because that isn’t the lead, it’s the BBC’s photo caption, and a rather bland one given the photo. If I were editing the piece I would have clarifying questions too. (The photo is from Reuters wire, which offered the caption. “A man holds a child that he said survived shelling from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, in Duma neighbourhood in Damascus, 17 November.” Wire captions range from shit to serviceable, and I don’t know what style the BBC prefers, but to me the Reuters one is much better given that it actually describes who’s in the photo.)
- The jokes themselves are a mix of obvious jokes at the expense of women’s magazines (it’s the Hairpin, so I doubt they’re publishing jokes at the expense of women, but the line between “women’s magazines think their readership is stupid” and “women’s magazine readers are stupid” is a hard one not to cross), actually pretty funny jokes at the expense of women’s magazines, jokes at the expense of copy editors, and totally legitimate edits. Like, ”activist network” basically doesn’t mean anything! The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights probably could use a description on first reference in a non-wire story. "The explosives are thought to be placed in the basement" could well be a write-around depending on sourcing. Etc. If I got these edits my piece would probably be better, and not just for the chance to redraft.
- This was picked up by Flavorwire, which linked to this anachronistic and kind of awful thing from 2002. This has nothing to do with either piece, I’m just gobstopped at Simon Dumenco here. I might be biased, because Simon’s article is essentially saying my profession needs to be laid off en masse, which has since happened. (An editor’s gotta pay the rent!) Or maybe I am biased against men who write sentences like “That was me being editorially, well, raped.” I wonder if a second editor might have caught that.
- I don’t even know. Sorry! I really do hate being the one person who nitpicks.