Asheville Citizen-Times Online: Where Are Your Copy Editors?

Asheville blogger Ashvegas makes waves locally for taking the local news station to task for bad reporting. And to be fair, he also gives them credit for good reporting, though the former outweighs the latter.

I don’t watch the local news. I get my news online, from my local paper.

And my local paper leaves a lot to be desired.

I’ve read trite columns rife with bad writing and grammar problems. My new newswriting professor has already politely advised the class not to look to the local paper to learn how to write the news. And I once sent an email to the paper’s former editor when the phrase “the common man” was used in a headline that didn’t refer only to men.

But the thing that drives me wild about the Citizen is the nonstop errors in spelling and grammar that infest the online edition.

I can handle the paper’s crappy writing better somehow, since I have no control over hiring and firing at the C-T. The bad writers are there, doing their thing, and there’s nothing I can do. Shitty spelling and grammar in a city paper, however, strikes me as a problem citizens can do something about by pointing it out and raising community awareness.

Man, I thought today, I wish someone would go after the online C-T the way Ashvegas goes after WLOS news. That’d be great. I wish someone would start raising community awareness that whoever copy edits the online paper needs to be beaten, or prayed for, or to have their lobotomy reversed, or something.

Tonight while eating a dinner that was cooked up far too late, I was casually looking over the paper. And I found this caption:

Tom Knaga cooks serloin steak at Mr. K’s Chuck Wagon at the NC Mountain State Fair. (9-12-07, John Fletcher)

Tom Knaga cooks what?

Hello, Citizen-Times. My name is Jennifer Saylor. But you can call me the Sirloin Kid.

S-I-R-L-O-I-N.

5 responses to “Asheville Citizen-Times Online: Where Are Your Copy Editors?

  1. All that’s missing is an apostrophe.

    cookss ‘er loin

    cookss, plural of the third person verb cook
    ‘er, common contraction of “her”
    loin, let’s not go into that (or what has previously gone into that)

    You’re too harsh on the poor old Citizen Times. Without them how would we know about the dog that had memorized the bible?

  2. Has your professor ever actually worked for a newspaper whose mandate is to produce copy 24/7 on-line and a large daily print edition?

    Yes, there are errors. I learned in journalism school that there almost always will be errors at a daily newspaper, in particular, a small one that produces a large amount of locally-based copy with a budget-challenged, underpaid staff.

  3. I figure my prof has worked for a large, busy newspaper, but my displeasure over the C-T’s constant blunders has nothing to do with her. It’s wholly my own, and dates from years before my first journalism classes.

    It springs from my own frequent encounters in the C-T with trite writing, bad grammar and simple spelling errors. I don’t have any problems with a paper having a few errors, but I do have problems with a large city paper having frequent and egregious errors. They make the paper look bad and the city look bad. There’s no excuse for my professor having to tell her journalism students to look to another city’s paper because ours is so unprofessional.

    Or is there? Why can others papers do what the C-T can’t?

    I see a paper with articles that don’t seem to have been copy edited, which doesn’t seem to be a budget problem. You know a lot more than I do about this situation, absolutely, but the inability to write a good lead, or have your copy edited, doesn’t seem to me to be a budget or pay problem. Asheville is FULL of writing talent. Why doesn’t our paper show that?

    However, me being bitchy on a blog is probably not the most constructive solution. Do you have a suggestion? Who copyedits the text that appears with the “featured galleries”? I love these and click on them all the time, but they have terrible errors sometimes and don’t seem to be copyedited at all.

  4. I don’t think the photo galleries are copy edited. The captions are written by the photographers who took the shots, who are not necessarily writers. The mandate, as I understand it, is to get the photos up quickly so they can be enjoyed by people like you, and if there’s a cutline error, so be it. The captions are copy edited for print. But I think web content is supposed to be looser. The goal is update, update, update. That said, I’m just a freelancer, but I will say that I’ve had better editing at the AC-T than I have at other medium-sized newspapers.

  5. Anne, in my opninon that’s an unfortunate mandate.

    Even in light of my limited knowledge of the journalisitic profession and my ignorance about the realities of the newsroom, I have trouble supporting a public information source being given a tacit OK to contain error, even little errors like spelling errors and small typos — which one can largely find and correct with spellcheck. This seems less a time issue to me than an issue of sloppiness and laxity.

    I think information matters. I think information from important sources like city newspapers matter that much more. The paper is the public face of our city.

    At this point I think it’s fair for me to mention again that I regularly read and enjoy the galleries. If I didn’t read and enjoy them I might not be bothered so much.

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