Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Journalism 101-part Four

"In Monday's issue of the same paper appeared a letter from the same
culprit. He ingenuously confessed that the line did not belong to
Shakespeare, but to a poet whom he called Grey. Which was another
cropper - or whopper. This strange and illiterate outbreak was printed
by the editor with the justly scornful title, " Mr. Chesterton
Any man reading the paper at breakfast saw at once the
meaning of the sarcastic quotation marks. They meant, of course,
"Here is a man who doesn't know Gray from Shakespeare; he tries to
patch it up and he can't even spell Gray. And that is what he calls an
That is the perfectly natural inference of the reader
from the letter, the mistake, and the headline - as seen from the
outside. The falsehood was serious; the editorial rebuke was serious.
The stern editor and the sombre, baffled contributor confront
each other as the curtain falls."

Editors can be frustrating, especially when they attempt to read the minds of the writers. And I speak from experience, because I edit things, too, on occasion, and there can be time contraints to verifying things, so you just go with what you think best at the time.

It seems Chesterton is a bit more frustrated than usual in the paragraph, but then, he was personally involved, having someone try to read his thoughts (fool, who can do that?!)

1 comment:

  1. Chesterton may be frustrated, but I also can hear him howling with laughter as he writes that essay, one of the best in A Miscellany of Men. Or is that my own laughter I hear as I read it? ;)

    I think, mostly, he's poking fun at the supreme sense of self-importance that afflicts so many in the news trade, while revaling to his readers that the process more closely resembles sausage making than anything else.


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