« You have the right to remain silent | Main | Judging but not judgmental »

Turn your radio on

I was invited to WYPR this morning for another chat with Sheilah Kast, which you will be able to hear tomorrow on Maryland Morning (88.1 FM, beginning at 9:00 a.m. EDT). You should also be able to find the interview at the Maryland Morning blog by the end of the day.

I didn’t go into much detail with Ms. Kast my first couple of weeks back at The Sun, which have done much to foster humility.

In the early Middle Ages the Danes harassed the English and pillaged their towns. In the modern era they accomplish the same result by exporting newspaper production software. Attempting to master the CCI NewsGate programming recently installed at The Sun has left me feeling a perfect prat. I have bungled a number of elementary tasks, have had to have common procedures explained to me repeatedly, and have very nearly gotten disastrously wrong information into print.*

If you are interested in learning humility, I recommend editing. It is, first of all, largely anonymous. (Quick, name the five most famous editors in history. Uh-huh, I thought so.) Second, though you may feel some temporary glow of superiority over identifying other people’s mistakes (there’s no a in misled if you mean the past tense), your own errors will be thrown into high relief. Third, when you wind up with people half your age patiently explaining things to you ...

In other matters:

New media, old technique: Andy Bechtel at The Editor’s Desk displays a particularly ripe example of the Huffington Post’s tendency to resort to cliche and overstatement in headlines.

Perspective: Despite all the hoo-hah in the news media about the exciting conclusion to Lost, the final episode ranked fifty-fifth in ratings of series finales, trailing Mr. Belvedere.

Oh, oh, oh, the OED: There is now a website on which you can have free access to considerable content from the Oxford English Dictionary. Dictionaries would be the better word, since you can choose either American or British versions. There is a premium service with additional features to which you can subscribe. It’s worth a look.**

Decoration Day: Christopher Corbett in a characteristically elegant little essay reminds us what the holiday this coming weekend was originally intended to be and encourages us to think about how we talk about war.

*Because nearly everyone else in the newsroom is struggling in similar fashion to comprehend NewsGate’s non-intuitive functions, I’ve been readily forgiven.

**Ben Zimmer, writing to point out a broken link, also clarifies that this site gives access to the modern British and American editions of the OED, not the complete historical dictionary, which is available through a separate subscription.

Posted by John McIntyre at 11:39 AM | | Comments (8)


Media has had some humbling years. But editors are important...reporters are a dime a dozen....and news anchors are about as disposable as a Bic razor.

The common denominator among newsroom computer systems is that when each is introduced the copy deadlines get earlier, not later. A system that's better than the one it replaces should enable later deadlines. Bring back Xyrite.

I hate deciphering the two words that have to be typed in to submit a comment. I'm looking at either day or clay.

For some time, AskOxford has offered a free search of the 145,000-word Compact OED. True, it has fewer words and less related content than the complete OED, but it has more than I'll likely ever need.

The first word I looked up on that OED site was 'hearsay':

"information received from other people which one cannot be substantiated"


Here is one journalist who appreciates her editors... Jean Hannah Edelstein created this cake for her colleagues as she changes jobs:

Mr. Zimmer clarifies further: "ODE and NOAD aren't exactly 'the modern British and American editions of the OED.' The UK/US trade dictionary program is a separate operation from the OED, though they share resources."

When editing, would you usually change "Turn your radio on" to "Turn on your radio"?

(also, my verification words were "comment footsies.")

No. There is nothing incorrect or unidiomatic about "Turn your radio on," either in speech or writing.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected