Three-in-one effort

This just in from Jessica Durkin:

This paragraph is from a Washington Post story, published online and in print 8/13/07 and headlined “A modern history of White House spin.”


Writer Peter Baker manages three bad cliches in two consecutive paragraphs. How hard can it be to use simpler expression?

“As a college professor, Martha Joynt Kumar studied and taught the art of presidential communication for years. But one day, she did what few of her colleagues in academia had: She showed up at the White House, planted herself in the basement along with the reporters who covered the president and started watching the whole process up close. That was in 1995. Now we have the fruits of her labor.


After attending briefings and presidential events for most of the last dozen years, Kumar has seen the sausage being ground for longer than most of the officials and reporters she studies. Her new book, “Managing the President’s Message,” published by Johns Hopkins University Press, pulls back the curtain on the machinations and recriminations that always seem to shadow the interactions between presidents and the media.

Is he serious? Plus, these cliches got passed editors?

Editor’s note: sometimes editors have other fish to fry — like making deadline or correcting erroneous assumptions — that force us to allow such transgressions into the paper.

4 thoughts on “Three-in-one effort

  1. Adam,

    Difference between sin of omission vs. commission: a typo is basically a sin of omission because the person neglected to take the extra time to make sure every word was just as it needed to be. If people ever become able to write without doing this, I’ll be back flipping burgers for a living.

    A cliche is a sin of commission, in which the writer deliberately uses a clever coinage coined by somebody else rather than think of something clever and original on his own. It’s theft on two counts: stealing somebody else’s words and robbing oneself of the opportunity to be a real writer.

    So, typos are forgiven here; cliches aren’t.

  2. “Editor’s note: sometimes editors have other fish to fry — like making deadline or correcting erroneous assumptions — that force us to allow such transgressions into the paper.”

    There is no excuse for allowing such transgressions into the paper. There is, however, two highly plausible explanations: that reporters are not nearly the writers they think they are, and that management, consisting as it does of former reporters, targets the copy desk when layoff time comes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>