Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good Editors Make Good Writers

It is the rare writer who doesn’t benefit from the thoughtful attention of his or her editor. Part of what distinguishes from fully-fledged online newspapers is the absence of editorial supervision.

What gets written here, according to Gannett, are blogs. As bloggers we are independent entities, for whom our publisher accepts no responsibility.

This is not necessarily a good thing.

No assignment editor is pointing us in the direction of a reportorial task and no copy editor is vetting the copy for style or fact. This accounts for the occasionally rackety and unrestrained nature of a good deal of what goes on here.

A case in point is a recent posting over at “The View from Baja Arizona.” I’m a big booster of Hugh Holub’s coverage of the border. That said, this piece could have used the helpful hand of a fair-minded editor.

Holub draws a stark picture of cartel violence and of the apparent inability of the Mexican government to control it. He will eventually ask the sorts of “what is to be done” questions that could stimulate thoughtful debate: Should we make cross-border military incursions? Should we legalize drugs to kill the profit motive?

Fair enough; but first he introduces the question of Aztec human sacrifice and wonders if there may not be something in Mexican cultural history that explains cartel savagery. The implication seems to be that Mexicans are genetically predisposed to violence

And the ‘chit’ hits the fan. An editor might well have pencilled out the Aztecs on the grounds that they are really a distraction from his central concern, or factually dubious. I can hear the editor saying, “It’s the blue pencil or the spike, take your choice.”

Cross-posted from:

Read Holub’s column here

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