More links!

This is an article in the New York Times about how newspapers are really, really circling the drain. Frankly, I do find this troubling, because it seems like in a lot of cases the on-line version of something is staffed by people with far less journalistic experience. In some cases, they have none at all--they blogged or worked for a Web site in some fashion, but never worked as a journalist or dealt with the pressures. (And there are a lot: It's an industry where death threats are not uncommon.) I'm worried that the baby (stuff like ethical reviewing) is getting thrown out with the bathwater.

The very last sentence really annoyed me, though:

But as they proceed, the Newhouses should remember that cutting corners ignores a fundamental fact: great journalism, on any platform, is the one sure hedge against irrelevancy.

In the context of the rest of the article (you know, about how newspapers ARE LOSING MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF MONEY), this was such a snotty little jab. You know something? Great journalism on a money-losing platform is no hedge against bankruptcy. Perhaps the Newhouses want to stay wealthy, ever think of that? Maybe they don't see the point in going down with the ship? I can't image the level of arrogance that makes a person feel like they can lecture someone else about how they ought to destroy their family's fortune in order to avoid "irrelevancy." If the choice is irrelevancy or poverty, most people are totally fine with the former.

(Cleansing breath, changing topic....)

This post by Dean Wesley Smith makes me wonder if perhaps we were separated at birth. He talks about the difference between editing and copy editing, and how you can get both without paying an arm and a leg. He even blew off copy editing his self-published stuff, and now thinks that was a bad idea! Separated at birth!

The only alteration I would make would be to substitute the word "writing buddy" for the word "friend." I'm willing to bet that, if you compared your friends with Smith's friends, his have a lot more experience in publishing. Granted, I have one friend--a roommate from college who works in education--who is a good editor and a shockingly good proofreader. But most of my friends and family are not good editors.

Why not? Because they love me! They love everything I write--they can't help it! Look, I wrote a book! They're so proud!

I really, really appreciate their love and support. I love them right back! But that's not helpful. Remember, a good editor is more concerned with improving your work than with protecting your feelings. Writing buddies who you meet through critique groups are going to think of you as a writer, not as their little baby or their auntie or their fraternity brother or whatever.

(It was actually an interesting dance with my friend who's a good editor. When I first gave her Trang, I told her at length that I really, really wanted detailed criticism--tell me where it's slow, tell me what's unclear, tell me what doesn't work for you. Don't just tell me it's great, because that's not helpful. I was very explicit about this.

And she sent me back a critique of the first few chapters with a note saying that she really, really hoped this was what I wanted, but that if I felt it was out of line, she was sorry. So even when I asked her to please be very honest, she was afraid that I would be angry with her for her criticism. It's a big hump for people to overcome.)