Irony illustrated

The blog post displayed above this one cited an article in Slate. The article discussed the practice of editing online consumer reviews. The Slate article was reprinted in The Washington Post on May 15. (That’s where I read it.)

The Post created a graphic to run with the text. The prominent (seven-by-nine-inch) illustration depicted several purported excerpts from error-filled reviews. The reviews bore marks from the red pen of an imagined copy editor.

But the imagined copy editor missed something.

“All and all” is not the expression the online reviewer thought it to be. And the copy editor didn’t know any better.

The copy editor should have deleted the “and” and inserted an “in.” The expression is “all in all,” and it means “everything being taken into account.”

In the Post’s illustration, the imagined copy editor is supposed to have repaired a customer’s review so the review would more favorably reflect on the business being critiqued. But that copy editor’s own mistake doesn’t help.

In turn, the Post’s real-life copy editors did not catch the illustrator’s mistake. As demonstrated in the Wayne State study mentioned above, that kind of oversight can diminish a newspaper’s esteem.

The blunder within a blunder unintentionally illustrates the findings of both research projects.

A graphic illustration of copyediting: a blunder wrapped in a blunder


1 Comment

Filed under clear writing, editing, grammar

One response to “Irony illustrated

  1. Pingback: AP is choosy about punctuation, too | The Friendly Stickler

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