Monday, May 14, 2007

Two Views of the Verde

The cover story in the May 14 High Country News provides an overview of the Verde Basin water war that we're all involved in.

Amster: "We need reasoned arguments, not rash acts"

These are all great sentiments, Randall, but after my third read, I still can't quite figure out exactly what you're advocating in terms of "a union of theory and practice, a coincidence of words and deeds." Make a stand and say what needs doing, my friend, preferably right here in Tiny Town.

Editorial: "Prescott's fire luck may not hold out"

Duh. Waste of space.

Letters: Illegals and cookies

Among today's letters, Victor Holm makes a few points, none of which seem to match the Courier's headline for his letter, "Illegal workers create problems for all." Farther down, Joan Johnson gets down to what our troops really need.

Goodman: "Mothers face a unique set of workplace challenges"

In what looks like a hopeful trend, the Courier only lightly bruised Ellen's column this week, originally titled "You've Been Momified," from May 10. But it was a shade too long for the space available, so the copy editor went to work. You have to be really careful about this if you want to maintain the integrity of the piece.

Here's an example of an editor turning nuance into nonsense:

Goodman: "Mothers are still treated as if they were a third gender in the workplace."

Courier: "Mothers are a third gender in the workplace."

The original headline is a tipoff that we're going to see some entertaining agony over the passive voice, and our copy editor does not disappoint. Here's one of many:

Goodman: "Then they tucked a little telltale factoid into some of the resumes with a tip-off about mom-ness. It described her as an officer in a parent-teacher association. And -- zap -- she was mommified."

Courier: "... It described her as an officer in a parent-teacher association. And - zap - mommified her."

By changing the voice arbitrarily, the editor reassigns the subject of the sentence, moving the action -- zap -- from the implied hiring officers to the factoid, serving us a plate of instant gibberish.

A1: "Legislators angry about transport allocation"

Joanna Dodder chats with our various state reps about one of the issues that will probably drag the annual budget fight through June again. We don't get anything like enough about what goes on at the capitol, and this piece gives us both the issue and some insight as to who's doing what. A cookie for Joanna.

How it's done

My optimism that the Courier will do more than run the odd wire story on Richie Rich Renzi, either on the news side or the editorial side, has been so far unfulfilled. Just so you know that some local media are on the job, here's a recent column from the New Times offering both heat and light.

Editorial: "Thank your mom; she deserves it"

The unnamed Courier editor tells us to be nice to Mom because of all she's done for us. Okay, fine, but he also slips in a couple of digs at pop-culture, "family values critics," who are apparently saying otherwise. Who are these people and where are they speaking? Maybe the Courier could give us an example. Or maybe the editor has been watching too much Fox News.