Category Archives: Writing

Thanks For the Conversation

I was out shooting for a photo project today, and as evening approached, I got myself a cold drink and sat down in a public square to ease my feet and back.

As I unwound, an older fellow pushing a four-wheeler came along. He saw me festooned with cameras and began asking questions.

Sigh. . .

Yes, that was my initial reaction, but then I thought, I’m done for the day, what’s it going to hurt to chat for a few minutes.

Wise decision, Paul.

We shook hands and introduced ourselves.

He was a world traveler and raconteur. He was a photography buff, and we began by discussing what made a good photo — good equipment or a good photographer. We agreed on the later. A good start.

We went back in time to the beginnings of photography, and he knew the inventors, and the dates. We talked paper-backed mid-format roll film.

He recommended a few photo shows that he’d seen recently, and panned a couple, too.

Turned out we’d traveled to many of the same places, but a few decades apart. And he’d traveled to lots of interesting places that I’d never been to. It also turned out we’d even done some similar work over the years. This was good!

He asked if I was retired, and I said, no, that I’d been working on a project today. I gave him my business card, and my volunteer streamkeepers card, and his eyes lit up. Turns out he was proud to support environmental causes.

The plaza was taking on a warm orange glow as the sun moved lower in the sky, and he positioned his wheeler, slowly got himself up and behind it, and said he’d better be moving on.

We shook hands again, and he said, “don’t get old, Paul.”

Damn.

Never underestimate your elders.

P.S. Since we’re first-time acquaintances, I’m not going to share his name. But I hope to meet him again some day. . .

Editors Canada Supports NYT Copy Editors

Proud that Editors Canada supports NYT copy editors, at least in spirit!

editors canada supports NYT copy editors

Dear copy editors of The New York Times:

The Editors’ Association of Canada (Editors Canada) wishes to express our support for you as The New York Times plans to drastically reduce its copy editing staff.

As your colleagues north of the border, we appreciate your efforts to bring much-needed attention to the importance of the profession of copy editor. As editing professionals, we know that the copy editor’s role is crucial. Without the copy editor, a huge range of errors can all too easily slip into print—not only spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, but factual errors, biased language, unclear passages and other problems, all of which can seriously undermine the credibility and effectiveness of a piece of writing. The result is not only unprofessional, but could lead to legal action against the publisher. While copy editors tend to be invisible, their work is indispensable.

We wish you well as you continue to speak out about the value of the copy editor in the publishing process, and we hope for a positive outcome for your current situation.

Sincerely,

Anne Louise Mahoney
Certified Professional Editor
President, Editors Canada
president@editors.ca

http://www.editors.ca/news/editors-canada-supports-copy-editors-new-york-times

Know Your Subject, Watch That Continuity – My Latest Editors’ Canada Blog Post

Blam! Blam! Black Sombrero fired his Colt .45 at the shadow in the barn, then spun and snapped three shots at the posse approaching across the coral. . .

My latest blog post for The Editors’ Weekly on why factual accuracy and plausibility are important even in fiction.

UPDATE: Aug. 26 — and this is why the world needs editors, lots of them! I don’t know how many sets of eyes went through this without noticing that “coral” should be “corral.”  Blushing. . .

Basic Reporting for Concerned Citizens

Hi folks, here a few tips for effectively sharing information, or reporting on things that concern you, be it via social media, email, phone, snailmail, etc.

Learn and remember the journalist’s question prompts of 5WH.

5WH?

Who
What
Where
When
Why
How

Answer those questions as best you can before you start sharing information, before you start writing, calling, Tweeting, posting to Facebook or blogs, emailing… and you’ll be miles ahead in clarity, conciseness, accuracy, and so on.

For a fleshed-out guide to 5WH see the Wikipedia entry here.

This applies to streamkeepers reporting spills or fish kills, to citizens reporting crime, to folks contacting their local papers, to students posting on blogs, to. . .