Can U Read & Rite?
The lead paragraph-which is supposed to grab readers, drag us into the story and telegraph the main points-says nothing. Beldon is rolling up his sleeves, rubbing his hands together, clearing his throat and getting ready to write his story.
More to the point, the phrase in the headline doesn't exist in English or French: "Al a carte." What the writer meant to say was "à la carte"-a term found on restaurant menus where individual dishes are listed with separate prices.
I went back to the Inquirer Web site at 11:40 a.m. Monday and found that "al a carte" had been corrected. But it left 345,000 INKY readers who read the hard-copy edition scratching our heads.
Memo to Tom Beldon: With newspapers hanging on by their fingernails, the few editors that remain are stretched to the breaking point. We writers are now responsible for cleaning up our own syntactical and grammatical messes as well as getting facts right and making the prose readable.
Grim News for a Paper in Jersey
Friday morning was a glorious one in suburban New Jersey. At 6 a.m., the heat of the morning leaked in through the window, accompanied by the huge racket of cicadas thrumming in unison. It was the kind of morning where someone might be tempted to just lie there pretending to sleep, but then another sound came: the thwack of fresh, hot newspaper hitting the sidewalk.
-David Carr, The New York Times, Aug. 4, 2008
The headline promised an important story about another newspaper in trouble. I didn't need an artsy description of morning in suburban New Jersey-heat leaking in through the window, cicadas, lying there pretending to sleep. David Carr, author of a just-published, huge national best-seller, "The Night of the Gun," has clearly become so important that nobody at the Times dares edit him.