Friday, October 24, 2008

If you are like I......

Yanks Thump Sox
Prime rate to remain stable, Bernanke says

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, June 22, 2008; Page W32
If you are like I, you are pretty sick of reading articles about how the financially-troubled newspaper industry is making desperation budget cutting moves: Downsizing its products, laying off staff, buying prostitutes for advertisers, and so forth. But believe me, you'd be even sicker of it if you were INSIDE a typical American newsroom these days, where it's sometimes hard to hear over the 200 decibel background drone of human whining.
One frequent newsroom complaint is that they are cutting back drastically in the use of copyeditors. It's true, but I for one am not complaining. I say good riddance.
The era of the copy editor is gone. Copyeditors were once an important part of the journalism process, back when journalists weren't as educated as they are now. Back then, your typical reporter was named 'Scoop" and he was a semi-literate cigar-smoking, fannie-pinching drunk with bad teeth in a wrinkled suit and a card that said PRESS stuck in the hat-band of his fedora, and they'd generate their stories by bribing sources, pistol-whipping people into talking, eavesdropping from inside closets, etc. A reporter was hired for cheek and muscle, not their writing skill, so you needed an extra layer of editing.
Copy editors were fine-tuners, fixing basic but important things that a first line of editing might'nt catch: Typos, errors in facts, spelling, syntax, punctuation, clarity, word usage, style, parallelism, and not letting sentences run on. They would also bear principle responsibility for headlines, photo captions, story jump lines, as well as catching the occasional, inadvertent cultural insensitivity. Because the job requires patience, maturity, intelligence, attention to detail, and an extremely sedentary workday, fat old Jewish ladies have often made good copyeditors.

But nowadays, things have changed. "Scoop" is gone. Young reporters are all named "P. Laurence Butterfield Jr." and they arrive at their first newspaper job fresh-faced and competent, straight from New Haven, Conn., with their high-faluting Princeton educations. They don't need copyeditors.
This is a true fact: I'm writing this column the very week after dozens of copy editors left my newspaper through an early retirement buyout, and I have noticed no difference at all whatsoever in the quality, accuracy
or readability of the product.
The inessentialness of copy editors is underscored by the advent of sophisticated spellchecking systems which have introduced a hole new level of error-free proofreading. No longer can we say that the editor's penis mightier than the sword. The sword's main foe is a computer now, and the computer is up to to the task.
But nowadays, things have changed. "Scoop" is gone. Young reporters are all named "P. Laurence Butterfield Jr." and they arrive at their first newspaper jobs fresh-faced and competent, straight from New Haven, Conn., with their high-faluting Princeton educations. They don't need copyeditors.
Truth to tell, I feel badly for all copy editors whom, I'm afraid, will suddenly find themselves out of a job. Time has past them by, however, efeated the Red Sox 6-5 in extra innings and it doesn't make sense for us to weep for copyeditors anymore than it makes sense for us to lament the replacement of bank tellers with automated ATM machines.
So to all my former copyediting colleagues, I wish them a soft landing. Finally, I'd like to give particular shoutouts to my friends Pat Meyers and Bill O'Brien, two longtime copyeditors for the Washington Post who took the early retirement: We'll miss ya, guys, even if we didn't need you all that muck.
How good a copy editor would you be? See how many of the 57 errors of fact, grammar, syntax and style in this column you can catch, and then read the corrections below.
Gene Weingarten can be reached at


Here are the errors in fact, grammar, syntax and style that a good copy editor would have caught.
Paragraph One: Six errors.
Opening line should begin "if you are like me," not "like I."
No hyphen in "financially troubled."
"Downsizing" should be lower case.
"Budget-cutting" should have a hyphen.
Syntax requires moving "desperation" after "budget-cutting."
"200-decibel" should have a hyphen.
Paragraph Two: Four errors.
"They" has no antecedent; should read "publishers."
"Copy editors" is two words.
The phrase "I, for one," needs two added commas.
Paragraph Three: Eleven errors.
"Copy editors" should be two words.
"Scoop" has an incorrect open quotation mark.
Comma needed after Scoop.
"Semiliterate" has no hyphen.
Comma needed after "semiliterate."
Should be "and wearing a wrinkled suit" to correct impression that it's his teeth in the suit.
It's "fanny," not "fannie."
"Hatband" has no hyphen.
HE would generate HIS stories, not "they" and "their."
"His" writing skills, not "their."
Paragraph Four: Six errors
"Mightn't," not "might'nt."
"Typos" should be lowercase.
"And not letting sentences run on" is bad parallelism."
"Principal," not "principle."
"Copy editors," not "copyeditors."
Grotesque cultural insensitivity in the line about Jewish women.
Paragraph Five: Four errors.
A comma is needed after "Jr."
It's "highfalutin," not high faluting.
Yale is in New Haven, not Princeton.
Copy editors is two words.
Paragraph Six: Two errors
"True fact" is redundant.
"At all whatsoever" is redundant.
"Continued" line is an error: One error.
Paragraph Seven: Six errors.
"Inessentialness" is not a word.
"Spell-checking" is hyphenated.
"That" have introduced, not "which."
"Whole," not "hole."
"Pen is" not "penis."
There is an extra "to" in the last sentence.
Paragraph Eight: One error.
The entire paragraph is repeated from above. Since it will not be individually copyedited again, this counts as one error only.
Paragraph Nine: Nine errors.
"Badly" should be "bad."
"Who," not "whom."
"Jobs," not "job."
"Passed," not "past."
There is errant baseball type included.
"Copy editors" are two words.
"Any more" should be two words.
"Automated" and "machines" are both redundancies.
Paragraph Ten: One error.
It is upside-down.
Paragraph Eleven: Eight errors.
"Copy editing" is two words.
Wish "you" a soft landing, not "them."
"Shout-outs" has a hyphen.
"Myers," not "Meyers."
"O'Brian," not "O'Brien."
"Copy editors" is two words.
"The" Washington Post, not "the."
"Much," not "muck."
The Headline: One error.
So, we get the 59 errors enumerated above, plus one more, to total 60: The final error is that we said there were only 57 errors.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Indian Vice President Ansari Asks Muslims to join India's Growth Story

Aligarh, October 18: : Asking Muslims to ‘seek equity, not concessions’ from government, Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Saturday said the community should introspect as a failure to participate in India's ‘growth story’ will lead to its marginalisation.

Addressing a gathering of over 500 Aligarh Muslim University alumni from as many as 20 countries, Ansari said the Muslim community should adapt to changing requirements of time and pointed out the need to draw every segment including women into the sphere of education.

This, he said, was the only way out if the Muslim community is to partake in India's historic growth story.

"We as a community have failed to appreciate the need for education for all sections. Our illiteracy levels continue to remain above the national level and we continue to lag behind in ensuring education at the primary level and for women," the Vice-President said.

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Rejecting the growing clamour for 'quotas' in educational institutions and jobs, Ansari said the community should ‘seek equity not concessions’ as ‘seeking specific dispensation will not take us too far’.

"Let us candidly admit that we have failed to conceptualise the demands of a changing environment and failed to understand that education cannot be sectional," Ansari told the first 'World Summit of AMU Alumni'.

He said Muslims should learn to emulate other communities in adapting to changing requirements of time and utilising the opportunities and sops provided by government.

"Our failure to participate in India's growth story will lead us to marginalisation," a candid Ansari, who is himself an alumnus of AMU and also a former Vice-Chancellor, warned.

Coinciding with the birth anniversary of its founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the two-day meet deliberated on the need to streamline resources for making the university a world class institution in the next 20 years.

Ansari, who passed out from the varsity in 1959, reminded the delegates of the founder's purpose for establishing the over 100-year-old institution in Aligarh, asking them to revert back to the message of Syed Ahmad.

"This is time to do cost accountancy and time to introspect. The institution was instituted in 1875 in response to a specific need to impart modern education to Muslims and inculcate in them a spirit of rational thinking," the ex-diplomat said.

"We need to revert to the message of Syed Ahmed Khan," he said, pointing to the need of philanthropic efforts to draw the marginalised sections towards education and channelise incomes for setting up more institutions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The cookie is crumbling for Kumble

By John Cheeran
So relief all around in the Indian dressing room as Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman ensured that the first Test ended in draw.
But the all round patchy show, especially from batsmen, does not give Indian cricket much hope.
The inconsistent show from stalwarts such as Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman should make Chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth and his co-selectors think hard. And as for Sourav Ganguly (47 and 26), the denouement has been already spelt out.
Of course as skipper, Anil Kumble must be a worried man by the ineffectual show of his batsmen. But honestly, can Kumble now command a place in the side purely on his wicket-taking abilities?
This is not the first time Kumble has gone wicket-less in a Test, but at this juncture, India’s senior pro, should justify his presence being useful to the side.
How much more should we invest in this fading stock? It is true that Kumble was hampered by injury, and that was evident from the low key role, he played in Australia’s second innings, coming in as the fifth bowler and restricting himself to eight overs. This is a long and hard series against cricket world’s fiercest rivals; and captain should lead by example to inspire his teammates.
If Ganguly could be given VRS by the Board of Control fro Cricket in India, why not others?
But changing your captain during the middle of a home series, for reasons other than injury, would be a hard blow for Indian cricket to take in. Mohali, Delhi and Nagpur are waiting and this slow burn should not be allowed to continue any longer.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ganguly and Gun!

From The Australian

SOURAV Ganguly has laid bare the staggeringly selfish nature of Indian cricket by launching a tirade against his team-mates.
Already at the centre of a circus after claiming he will retire at the end of this four-Test series against Australia, the former captain claimed some Indian players changed their hairstyle more often than they made runs.
"I have played 400 matches for India (110 Tests and 311 one-day games). I have played badly in only one series, yet every Tom, Dick and Harry is playing in the team," Ganguly told a local Bengali newspaper.
"There are players who haven't scored in the last three series for India, even for the last one year. There are some who have changed their hairstyle more than they have scored for India."
Ganguly, 36, did not mention his fielding, which was typically dreadful during the second day of the first Test here yesterday.
The tensions his criticisms will create can only be magnified should India do badly in this Test and series, given the pressure on the senior players following a surprise 2-1 Test series loss to Sri Lanka in August.
Captain Anil Kumble, who turns 38 this month, will certainly be feeling it after going to lunch yesterday with figures of 0-103. He has now conceded 100 runs in an innings 56 times, more than any other bowler in Test history.
Ganguly claimed he wanted to continue playing next year.
"Maybe seven more Tests. For that I was not prepared to take any more humiliation," he said.
"I was tired of being humiliated again and again. I don't want to play cricket at the mercy of others."
Ganguly's humiliation stems from being left out of last month's Rest of India side in the Irani Trophy match against reigning Ranji Trophy title-holder Delhi, which was essentially a warm-up match for this Test series.
A fading Ganguly was first dropped by Greg Chappell early in 2006 when the Australian was coach and wanted to renew an ageing team.
Ganguly made a strong return late that year and had played well since, but two of his last three series have been poor, averaging 29 in Australia and, most recently, 16 in Sri Lanka.
"When Greg dropped me, TP Singh (who is now playing in the rebel Indian Cricket League) was my replacement. Where is he now?" Ganguly said.
Ganguly claimed being dropped for the Irani Trophy was worse than being dropped by Chappell.
"I couldn't imagine being dropped for that. That's when I said, 'not again'," he said.
It is only a new selection committee, under former Test batsman Kris Srikkanth, which has revived Ganguly's career.
"I am bound to feel bad. I had to fight with my heart," Ganguly said. "If there is a gun to your head all the time, how long can you bear this?
"I thought a lot before reaching this decision. I have also thought about my plans for the next one year.
"If this (selection) committee had come three years earlier, the situation would have been slightly better for me."

India's brittle batting gives Ponting room for hope

So my fears came true but when Harbhajan Singh did his bhangra at the batting crease, things perked up a little for a beleaguered India.
India lost wickets while looking for quick runs, and except for that bright opening from Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, the home side was without a master builder.
So no wonder then that the cavalier Singh emerged as the king, not with the ball, but with the bat. The Fab Five must be chastened by the fact that Harbhajan emerged as the top scorer for India with 54. Only a patient half-century from Rahul Dravid came closer at 51. Yes, Sourav Ganguly hung in there, again proving a point that he is still better than many in Indian cricket. It was an innings under pressure again, but when you consider the struggles of Sachin Tendulkar (13) VVS Laxman (0) and MS Dhoni (9) at the crease, you can make your own judgments about the state of Indian batting.
So where is this Test heading?
Australia definitely enjoyed the upper hand when they saw the back of Ganguly at 232/7, but Indian tail or rather Harbhajan has spoiled Ricky Ponting’s push for victory. India is still behind Australia by 117 runs. If Indian spinners fail to tease and torment Aussies in their second innings, the last day of the match could see India caught between victory and defeat while chasing an almost 400 target.
Thus it is all about managing the contradictions. You got to attack but only knowing well where your weaknesses are.
Anil Kumble, going wicket-less in the first innings, has a cross to bear tomorrow both at the batting and bowling creases.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Watchout for the cracks in the wall, cracks in the pitch

By John Cheeran
The intent mattered.
India has taken up the Aussie gauntlet and is now looking to overcome Australian first innings total in the fastest way possible. They should score quickly, and for now, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, have done just that.
More than the mere run rate, after all it is just 18 overs, India’s positive attitude signals that they are here to win the Test and seize the initiative in the series.
In the remaining three days, Anil Kumble has a tough task to accomplish. India is left with not many options, but to bat through day three and day four and let the pitch take care of Ponting and mates on the final day. But cruising at a fast mode would naturally mean that at some stage Indian innings would crack under the contradictions of getting quick runs and keeping wickets intact. That’s the challenge for the Indian batting in this Test.
There is nothing surprising the way Sehwag and Gambhir have begun the Indian riposte. Both are aggressive batsmen by nature.
The wicket still plays true and hard. And down the order you could expect some suicidal brilliance from Sourav Ganguly especially after his “Every Tom Dick and Harry” interview to AajKal on the eve of the match.
It was no wonder that Ganguly, again, cut a lonely figure on the field. He was the last one to join the huddle when a wicket fell; he was the last one to troop out when the team took the field.
But given Ganguly’s Fuck You All attitude, it might trigger another blazing innings from the man, though his form has not been the best in the recent past.
Whatever, expect quite a few twists and turns in the next three days.

Aussies Hussey, Hussey

By John Cheeran
By posting 430 in the first innings, Australia has achieved their immediate objective. Of course, skipper Ricky Ponting would have liked to see another 70 runs on board to his side’s first innings total, but by giving the hosts only less than a session on the second day to bat, he should be extremely happy. Now, Australia has enjoyed batting without hurry during the major part of the first two days, but India must bat with a sense of urgency to have a real chance to win this Test, where spinners will have an increasingly important role to play as the days go by.
Australia did not set out to dominate Indian bowling on the second day too. They were, in fact, playing it neat and straight. Michael Hussey was willing to be the anchor instead of the aggressor, and he held the latter half of Aussie innings with aplomb and authority. Despite losing Shane Waston early in the day, Hussey held on and gathered runs with the clean conscience of a solitary reaper. May be Hussey could have taken a little more freedom against Kumble and Harbhajan. With pitch playing true and fast, Indian spinners were wheeling away, more in hope than with a real sense of wickedness.
The kind of percentage cricket that Australians played during the first two days should be a pointer for Indian batsmen. Patience pays off eventually. Hussey showed everyone how much he prizes his wicket and the way he anchored the second half of the Aussie innings should be a lesson, in case any aspiring cricketers were watching at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
In fact, most were surprised, in the end, the sudden fall of wickets that sealed the Australian innings at 430. Zaheer Khan, ignored throughout the day by skipper Kumble after the pacer failed to control his line and length, finally redeemed himself by capturing three wickets in the space of seven balls sent down by the bowler.
Zaheer bowled Hussey (146) to end a huge innings and complete an enticing haul of five wickets, but if one should pick an Indian bowler for his qualitative contribution, I would vote for Ishant Sharma. For much of the second day, it was Ishant who ran in with a sense of purpose, and put a few breaks, when Aussies were walking on.

123...for Ponting and Australia in Bangalore

By John Cheeran
Australia has put aside bravado for the time being. Skipper Ricky Ponting first called 123 at the toss on Thursday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore and a few minutes later walked in to compile a polished 123 to thwart India’s designs of winning the first Test of the three Test Border-Gavaskar series.
On Thursday, everyone was disappointed at the guarded approach of Australians. 256 for four in a day is, not what you have come to expect from the Aussies. But Greg Chappell or Nielsen, Ponting has understood the meaning of playing well in the early hours of a series and the importance of playing the first innings big and proper, especially after winning the toss.
It is true that India’s aging spinners, skipper Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, did not have the best conditions to confound the Aussie batsmen. It would be largely incredulous to expect these two lead the likes of Ponting and Simon Katich astray.
You cannot deny that India had begun well in the series when Zaheer Khan sent back opener Matthew Hayden without a run on the board. And what a deceiving moment that turned out to be. Only in the final few minutes of the day India could salvage some pride by taking the wickets of centurion Ponting and Michael Clarke.
But by then Australia had achieved their basic objective. They had some runs, and denied the first use of batting crease to hosts, and there by, managed to pile the pressure on the home side.
Aussies could not go wrong much from this stage, unless India produce some very, very special efforts in the remains of the Test.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Can newspapers survive?

By Michael Gawenda
There is incessant chatter about the need for a new model for newspapers in the digital age, which might be true, but in the meantime, profitable newspapers are being butchered. Talk of a new model is nothing but empty words.
The editorial cuts announced by Fairfax, publisher of the Herald, in response to a fall in advertising revenue, were chilling. The economic slowdown is the immediate cause, but this was coming for at least a decade. It is a failure of imagination and commitment, a result of a lack of experience and knowledge and love of newspapers. I am not opposed to cuts in editorial staff as a matter of principle. Not every job has to be preserved and protected. I am not saying the Herald and The Age cannot be great newspapers with fewer journalists. They can. And they have to change.
But for real change, courage is needed, as are vision and risk-taking and, above all, a commitment to newspapers and journalism that, frankly, I do not see at the moment.
Young people embarking on a career in journalism should not despair. Things change, often in unexpected and unforeseeable ways. Newspapers can do some things no other medium can match - not television, not radio, not the internet.
One of the great mistakes newspapers have made in recent years is trying to address their weaknesses rather than build on their strengths. So we have shorter stories, bigger headlines, more graphics, more bells and whistles, more tricked-up, overblown pages, more pages meant to look visually rich but which, in the main, look desperate and garish.
This attempt to ape the internet in print is being driven by middle-aged people who, in truth, have no real feel for the net and therefore no real understanding of its strengths and weaknesses. The next generation of journalists, who have grown up in the digital age, are much more likely to understand what newspapers can offer that digitally delivered journalism cannot.
Only newspapers can build a community of readers. What builds that community? Well, for a start, a shared sense of what the newspaper is about, what it considers important, interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking. A shared sense of the city, the country, even the world. That's about telling stories - stories from our courts and police force and local councils and businesses and governments and hospitals. No web news site will ever tell such stories.
Is this investigative journalism? Of course it is. How many newspaper articles do you consider compelling and revelatory, articles that only a reporter, going out there and doing the reporting work, could have brought you? Newspapers need to be in the business of news, but they need to report news that only a newspaper can do well.
The rest, reports of news conferences, PR-driven events, announcements - all of that can go online. Newspapers need to get smaller, clearer in their focus.
Most of the lifestyle sections should migrate to online. That doesn't mean newspapers should stop writing about food, for instance, but think, when was the last time you read a truly well-reported story about food? The reviews and the listings - and entertainment and television guides - are much better done online.
Unlike some people, I believe the future for newspapers is not in commentary and analysis. The internet is awash with commentary. You can read the columnists on every major - and minor - paper in Australia and around the world on the net, and a number of sites aggregate this stuff.
Newspapers should not abandon commentary and analysis, but it should really be just another form of reporting - tell me something I have not thought about. That can be done only by people who know more about a given subject than I know. Too many columnists actually know less than their readers.
Newspapers need to build on their strengths: Forget big headlines and huge and often meaningless graphics. Instead, arresting photography, great illustrations and wonderful editorial cartoons. And stories, well-written and compelling stories, well-edited and with smart and entertaining headlines, if possible, without lousy puns.
Will this sort of newspaper, half the size of most of the papers we produce today, succeed?
Can newspapers have smaller circulations and fewer readers, a premium cover price, no lifestyle sections, no special circulation deals - which basically involve giving the paper away - and be profitable? I think so.
What size staff is required to produce such a newspaper? I suspect a smaller staff than those producing today's papers. I am sure the newspaper and online sites of the newspaper need to be brought together because without that sort of integration, neither will succeed.
Do newspapers have a future? And how long is that future? Well, I ask you to imagine Melbourne without The Age and the Herald Sun or Sydney without the Herald and The Daily Telegraph. Imagine Australia without The Australian.
If you can imagine such a future, in my view, that's in part because of our failure to produce newspapers that attract the sort of fierce and lifelong loyalty they once attracted.
Michael Gawenda is a former editor-in-chief of The Age. This is an extract from his A.N. Smith Lecture in Journalism to be delivered tonight in Melbourne.
John Cheeran at Blogged