Testy Copy Editors

Our new website is up and running at testycopyeditors.org. This board will be maintained as an archive. Please visit the new site and register. Direct questions to the proprietor, blanp@testycopyeditors.org
It is currently Mon Nov 23, 2020 2:51 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours




Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 16 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2004 8:26 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 598
Location: The Herald in Everett, WA
Okay, maybe I'm out of my mind (quite possible), but are there any other wire editors out there having trouble reconciling the death toll in Uzbekistan on Tuesday with the actual people listed as killed?<p>Every story I see has 20 alleged terrorists dead today, three police officers killed today, for a total (with 19 dead from Sunday/Monday) of 42 dead. I've been over and over stories from AP and LA Times and I keep coming up with 19 suspected terrorists, and a total of 41 dead:<p>Two "bad guys" and three officers dead from one suicide bombing Tuesday, another suicide bomber dead, and 16 other bad guys dead from a shootout. That's 19 terror suspects dead.<p>Am I just missing a one somewhere? If I am, please point it out to me before I really do go nuts!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2004 10:13 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 3135
Location: Albuquerque, N.M. USA
Punt. Maybe you can use it as an opportunity to run a story that treats it less as a box score and instead discusses what's going on there and why. And mention somewhere midway down the story that reports disagree on the number of dead. It doesn't really matter if it's 41 or 42 anyway, does it?


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2004 10:31 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 598
Location: The Herald in Everett, WA
Yeah, I've already punted. And, well, yes it does matter to me if we run 41 or 42. One is (apparently) right and the other is wrong. AP copy has me a little testy tonight, as in "Did ANYbody at AP edit the $%#*& Children Slain story and where the hell are the hard facts???" Grr....


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2004 10:35 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 3135
Location: Albuquerque, N.M. USA
I meant it doesn't matter to your readers. <p>But I can understand your frustration.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2004 11:03 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2002 1:01 am
Posts: 8342
Location: Bethesda, Md.
I think it matters to readers whether the newspaper is "right" or "wrong." Of course, both figures could be wrong.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2004 11:19 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 598
Location: The Herald in Everett, WA
<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by blanp:
Of course, both figures could be wrong.<hr></blockquote><p>I could say that about the facts of any national/world story. The best I can do is determine accuracy to the best of my ability before I turn it over to the rim and slot. Especially on those too-frequent times when wire services disagree, but that's another headache.<p>And I agree that Average Reader doesn't care if 41 or 42 are dead in Uzbekistan. But, you know the drill, it's my job to get it right.<p>Last week's vacation suddenly seems so far away.<p>[ March 30, 2004: Message edited by: Jackie ]</p>


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 2:55 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Dec 12, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 273
This is the sort of situation where I rewrite it to say "dozens" are dead in the lead, and give the conflicting figures later on.<p>Ideally, the AP should have figured out the exact number who were killed. But, if that was not feasible, the AP should have written around it as I describe above. If it had, members could have printed just the first graf and had enough to satisfy most readers, or printed the whole story and explained why the figures were in dispute.<p>Please, folks -- when the AP runs a story with a serious problem like this, phone your local bureau. Very often, the reason why the problem hasn't been fixed is that nobody pointed it out. If you alert the AP to the problem, you'll be donig a service to all the other members.<p>For those who don't know, I am an AP newsman. (And please forgive me if there are any typos, etc., in this post; I'm writing it on three large shots of whiskey.)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 8:05 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 3135
Location: Albuquerque, N.M. USA
<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by blanp:
I think it matters to readers whether the newspaper is "right" or "wrong." Of course, both figures could be wrong.<hr></blockquote><p>You make my point for me. Are we writing news stories or tabulating agate listings? If one "official" in Deniztekistan counts 41 bodies and another counts 42, and if wire services report conflicting numbers, that discrepancy isn't an overriding concern. Yes, every human life is sacred, and each death is a tragedy, but the exact number of dead can be handled in the 10th graf. The story is what is going on in Deniztekistan. The story is why the people are dying. The story is in the life story of one of those 41 or 42 people.<p>On with the body count ...


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 8:13 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2002 1:01 am
Posts: 8342
Location: Bethesda, Md.
Rarely is "the story" that of one person. The idea that it can be is the wrongheaded basis of the "narrative," a journalistic form, I hope, is on its way out with the new emphasis on accountability and attribution (fat chance!)


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 8:42 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 3135
Location: Albuquerque, N.M. USA
<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by blanp:
Rarely is "the story" that of one person. The idea that it can be is the wrongheaded basis of the "narrative," a journalistic form, I hope, is on its way out with the new emphasis on accountability and attribution (fat chance!)<hr></blockquote><p>I have to say, you seem to be picking out one element of each of my posts, a tangential element at that, and twisting it a bit and taking it off topic. <p>I didn't say the story of one person is the whole story. (Though the story of one of those dead Uzbekis could very well be endlessly compelling.)<p>Are you being deliberately provocative, sir?


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 9:03 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2002 1:01 am
Posts: 8342
Location: Bethesda, Md.
<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by jjmoney62:
<p>
I didn't say the story of one person is the whole story.
<hr></blockquote><p>I didn't say you said the story of one person is the whole story. You, sir, are the one being deliberately provocative!


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 9:09 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 12:01 am
Posts: 3137
Location: Homebush NSW Australia
<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by blanp:
I think it matters to readers whether the newspaper is "right" or "wrong." <hr></blockquote><p>Unless I have been asleep, this this gets to the crux of the matter.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 11:13 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 3135
Location: Albuquerque, N.M. USA
Blanp: You in effect said I did say that. If it hadn't been two in a row, I wouldn't have brought it up.<p>Mr. Wiggins: The crux of the matter, for the moment, is not getting it right or getting it wrong. As blanp pointed out, both numbers could have been wrong. A wire editor in Washington state would have no clue.<p>The point is: We're fixated on numbers. Our AP or City News mentality tells us the first thing we need to do is count the bodies piled up in Belafleckistan. I'm merely suggesting there is much more to the story than the box score and that a discrepancy of one matters little to the readers. It's a radical idea, I know.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 4:11 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2002 1:01 am
Posts: 8342
Location: Bethesda, Md.
<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by jjmoney62:
Blanp: You in effect said I did say that. If it hadn't been two in a row, I wouldn't have brought it up.<p>The point is: We're fixated on numbers. Our AP or City News mentality tells us the first thing we need to do is count the bodies piled up in Belafleckistan.
<hr></blockquote><p>I'm not fixated on numbers. I just think we ought to get them right when we can and explain why we can't. The suggestion that I or other serious contributors here have an AP mentality is the most insulting thing anyone has said to me in years and if I didn't love you like the younger brother I never had, I would ... would ... get real mad!


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 7:11 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 598
Location: The Herald in Everett, WA
<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by jjmoney62:
A wire editor in Washington state would have no clue..<hr></blockquote><p>But I have to make those decisions almost every night. And it's not just a matter of numbers not adding up in different wire service's stories. Quotes can be different, facts other than numbers can be different. And so forth.<p>Dan, I'd call the state bureau but that would be utterly useless. (And if anyone here is from Seattle AP, I apologize for offending, but it is the truth.) And calling New York, which is three hours ahead of us, usually doesn't get me an answer before deadline. An aside: NY and Washington AP have never been disagreeable to me on the phone.<p>But I concede that you are right: In an instance in which AP is going with 20 dead and the story goes on to describe 19 dead, I should have called.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Help! Terrorist count
PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 7:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 598
Location: The Herald in Everett, WA
<blockquote><font size="1" face="TImes, TimesNR, serif">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Dapper Dan:
(And please forgive me if there are any typos, etc., in this post; I'm writing it on three large shots of whiskey.)<hr></blockquote><p>I'm thinking if anyone's doing "gotcha" over these posts, that person seriously needs more going on their life.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 16 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group

What They're Saying




Useful Links