Meeja: December 2006 Archives

Knee-jerk of the week

19 December 2006

Dan Gillmor is either a stranger to the art of the magazine cover-line or didn't think too hard when providing his commentary on Time magazine's cover about the sudden realisation that a lot of people can now put their stuff online and that, apparently, gangs of machine-gun touting record company executives no longer force consumers to buy Michael Jackson CDs.

Amid the congratulations for writing about blogging - something that Gillmor likes a lot - he comes out with a sentence that makes you wonder whether he has ever considered what is in the mind of someone who reads a magazine or, indeed, anything:

But there’s a tiny bit of reality in the fact that the cover didn’t say “Us” instead of “You” — in part because it was a vestige of the magazine’s traditional, royal thinking wherein they told us everything they thought we needed to know (and what to think about it). Our role: We bought it or didn’t.

It didn't say "Us", I have no doubt, because it would have been the most confusing cover-line ever committed to print. Anyone scanning the magazine racks would have wondered why Time staff in a fit of hubris voted themselves their people of the year. And we'd have Gillmor bitching about the "them and us" philosophy of that. Luckily for them, the editors at Time do at least consider what is in the mind of someone who is working out what they'd like to read at the airport. "You" was the obvious choice for that cover - which, in itself, was a bit obvious. But, ignoring that makes it easier to bang on about the ideology of what Gillmor now calls "citizen media".

So, it still seems strange, as Venture Voice points out, that the citizen media ideologues still need daddy's approval:

However, what does it say that a silly magazine award (published by the "M.S.M." no less) can still set the blogosphere a flutter?

For a moment I thought it was next stop schadenfreude as I happened across a post at Sally Flood's Getting Ink blog about Strumpette's idea of having a "copy journalist sub the copy posted by a 'communications' expert".

However, the guilty pleasure was shortlived as I noticed a comment from Rob Buckley about the sub-editor's stone-casting credentials:

"(WHY THE PASSIVE VOICE?)" in reference to "a serious newspaper is grappling", when that's actively voiced present continuous tense..."

Strumpette aka Amanda Chapel, but is really someone else entirely, claims she/he engaged the services of "a newspaperman to proofread" the copy of Text 100 CEO Aedhmar Hynes. It's strange how Chapel refers to the process as proofreading when he/she was after a copy-edit. I don't know many proofreaders on newspapers. OK, I don't know any. They're generally called sub- or copy-editors because that's what they do. Want a proofreader? Try book publishing.

Apparently, Chapel's 'newspaperman' is not up for any freelance work. That's a relief, because he seems to share Chapel's wayward approach to English.

Take the preceding post on Britney Spears' need for a more discrete form of PR where, apparently the flack "must be facile with blogging and podcasting" and would be advised to have "Turrets Syndrome". OK, I can guess the name that was meant to go with "syndrome" there, but I'm having some difficulty working out which word Chapel was reaching for when she/he alighted on "facile".

Back to our anonymous sub:

"(WRONG WORD. “LITANY” IS NOT A MERE PLURAL ADJECTIVE LIKE “HOST.” THE WORD MEANS “A LIST OF COMPLAINTS OR PROBLEMS.” NOT QUITE RIGHT IN THIS CONTEXT.)

Err...right. May I recommend a dictionary for Christmas for the Chapel household? There should be a word that means "a list of complaints or problems" but litany is not it. Maybe a "tedious recital" or a "series of prayers", but not what Chapel, er, Chapel's sub thinks it is.

The piece goes on in the same vein, and makes you wonder whether Hynes is all that bad as a writer. That illusion does soon go away when you look at the original but I feel I might need a dictionary from a parallel universe should I ever come across work from the pen of Strumpette in real life.