George Edmonson



‘Resist the urge to be clever or cute’ and other tips from a writer-turned-reader

As a reader far more often than a writer these days, I find that I’m bothered by different things than I was when the situation was reversed. A sports section that can’t get its agate correct consistently. A story that fails to include a person’s age when it is clearly relevant. Reporting that lacks adequate geographical references so I can locate an area.

I could go on, of course, but you get the idea. This hit home for me the other day when I heard from an editor about a story I had written. His first question was one that I couldn’t answer very well. I immediately realized that I’d fallen victim to one of my own observations: insufficient reporting, compounded by not writing well enough to camouflage it. Read more


Wall Street Journal makes numerous, uncorrected mistakes on editorial pages

Few newspapers enjoy a reputation as solid as that of The Wall Street Journal, even after the consternation over ownership changing hands a few years ago. Its news reporting is solid, writing first-class, opinion pieces sharp and pointed. And, as Marilyn Monroe pointed out, there are all those tiny figures.

Lately, though, I’ve discovered numerous cracks in its editorial page fortress, which seems to be surrounded by a nearly impenetrable wall.

The cracks are errors on the opinion pages. I’m not talking about statements that might be open to interpretation or arguable viewpoints. No, I’m talking about things more basic. Like Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

That’s the way the surname of the Republican U.S. senator from Texas was spelled in a column last month about that state’s politics. Read more


6 ways journalists can clean their copy, commit fewer errors

Recently, I became so upset by the number of easily avoidable mistakes I was encountering in respected online and print outlets that I got in touch with Poynter, eager to write something making clear the risk these organizations were taking by skimping on editing.

I know from experience, particularly as public editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution more than a decade ago, how disturbing such errors are to readers, leading them to believe no one’s paying attention or cares.

On the other hand, does Poynter’s audience want to read another jeremiad from a cranky old retired guy? Nope, Poynter’s Julie Moos told me. The institute’s readers are interested in solutions, not complaints. (Those are all my words. Julie was, of course, far more polite.)

Initially, I didn’t think I had any solutions. Read more