Anger can make a man verbose
July 24, 2008 4:15 AM   Subscribe

Giles Coren is restaurant critic at the Times (of London). Last week he wrote a very angry letter to the subeditors complaining that they were "tinkering with his copy". The subs were guilty of deleting a single indefinite article.

Coren wrote: "I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a nosh."

It appeared as: "I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for nosh."

Apart from working as a restaurant critic, Coren (previously here and here) is also a satirist. I've done some checking and apparently he is not making this up.

posted by MrMerlot (132 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have a teeny man-crush on Coren and am therefore entirely on his side in this. I have to say though, it seemed to be rhetorical anger as opposed to actual anger anger. His chagrin was more of a flourish of the pen than a brutal rant. Plus, y'know, he's really dreamy.
posted by Jofus at 4:20 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a maroon. There seems to be some history of his not liking the editing his work undergoes, but to get publicly up in arms about this instance makes him look like a fool.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:22 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've heard Metafilter is looking for a food critic to discuss plates of beans.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:23 AM on July 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


LOLGRAMMARNAZIS

*apologies to Grammar Nazis everywhere
posted by Anderson_Localized at 4:25 AM on July 24, 2008


Two more aggrieved emails from Coren (one about a restaurant review, the other more ill-judged sub-editing) also make entertaining reading. Good post.
posted by Huw at 4:26 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've heard Metafilter is looking for food critic to discuss plates of beans.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 4:27 AM on July 24, 2008 [20 favorites]


Total overreaction, but I gotta say: I think the original sentence was better.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 4:34 AM on July 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


He should resign in protest, and swear never to write anything for them ever again. Or for anyone else.
posted by Phanx at 4:44 AM on July 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Coren's use of 'nosh' is just wrong though; it means 'food' and you wouldn't say 'a food'.
And the way he's written that sentence (which is badly written from start to finish) it's as if he actually intends something like 'a snog' rather than 'a nosh.'
posted by Flashman at 4:47 AM on July 24, 2008


Are you sure 'nosh' means simply 'food'? Because where I'm from (NYC), nosh has been used in my company frequently like this (I personally hate the word, but..): "I feel like a quick nosh before the show". Now, clearly I'm not English, but perhaps it is also used colloquially in the same way over there? I do agree about the snog though.
posted by spicynuts at 4:50 AM on July 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I had to read it about six or seven times before I could tell what the difference was. Might as well argue about how many angels you can get on the head of a pin.

A giant hair splitting exercise of inane proportions.

An egregious example of fiddling whilst Rome burns.
posted by dollyknot at 4:50 AM on July 24, 2008


...we discussed your turning three of my long sentences into six short ones in a single piece, and how that wasn't going to happen anymore...

So he has an agreement that they won't do this and they break it. Plus, as he points out, the only possibly reason for removing a single letter has to be an artistic/stylistic one (i.e. not a length issue) and they didn't even consult him or, it seems see what his point was.

Sounds like a legitimate complaint. Saying it's over "a single definite article" is like saying the debate over gay marriage is about "a little piece of paper".
posted by DU at 4:51 AM on July 24, 2008


Flashman,

The small bits of Yiddish I know came from my father and from his parents. "A nosh" sounds fine to me.
posted by ben242 at 4:54 AM on July 24, 2008


Huh. Well I looked it up, and in the original Yiddish it did mean a light meal. So (I think rather pedantically on his part) Coren's use was correct, but I think most English people are more familiar with it as just 'food', e.g 'have some nosh,' which I'm sure would be why they changed it.
posted by Flashman at 4:56 AM on July 24, 2008


I say, Flashman -

I think his use of "a nosh" here is meant to be risqu-ay. It's slang for a blow-job. (Agree that it's lousy grammar!)
posted by laumry at 4:57 AM on July 24, 2008


did I guess should read does, whoops.
posted by Flashman at 4:58 AM on July 24, 2008


What a maroon. There seems to be some history of his not liking the editing his work undergoes, but to get publicly up in arms about this instance makes him look like a fool.


He's not a moron, he's a highly paid restaurant reviewer for The Times- I suspect the job would be a bit much for a moron.

An egregious example of fiddling whilst Rome burns.

What's burning?

A sub changed the man's prose without good reason. I'd be pissed off.
posted by mattoxic at 4:58 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


And the way he's written that sentence (which is badly written from start to finish) it's as if he actually intends something like 'a snog' rather than 'a nosh.'
posted by Flashman at 7:47 AM on July 24 [+] [!]


"2) I will now explain why your error is even more shit than it looks. You see, i was making a joke. I do that sometimes. I have set up the street as "sexually-charged". I have described the shenanigans across the road at G.A.Y.. I have used the word 'gaily' as a gentle nudge. And "looking for a nosh" has a secondary meaning of looking for a blowjob. Not specifically gay, for this is soho, and there are plenty of girls there who take money for noshing boys. "looking for nosh" does not have that ambiguity. the joke is gone. I only wrote that sodding paragraph to make that joke. And you've fucking stripped it out like a pissed Irish plasterer restoring a renaissance fresco and thinking jesus looks shit with a bear so plastering over it. You might as well have removed the whole paragraph. I mean, fucking christ, don't you read the copy?

RTFA
posted by geos at 5:00 AM on July 24, 2008 [11 favorites]


I think he's using 'a nosh' in the same way as you'd say 'a smoke' or 'a walk', i.e. he's using it (quite acceptably) as a verb. So not 'a nosh' as in 'a meal'.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:01 AM on July 24, 2008


And how can you possibly know, sitting there "over a glass of rose", what other people are wondering, whether it's where to go for a snack or light meal, or for some illicit fellatio.
posted by Flashman at 5:02 AM on July 24, 2008


I'm with Coren. Nuances were lost, and all for the want of an indefinite article. "It's only writing"? No thanks.
posted by imperium at 5:04 AM on July 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Flashman: Coren's use of 'nosh' is just wrong though; it means 'food' and you wouldn't say 'a food'.

No, I'm a UK English speaker, and it can be used either as "nosh" (= food ) or "a nosh" (= a session of eating food). The slang meaning goes way back - we're talking Polari.
posted by raygirvan at 5:12 AM on July 24, 2008


to get publicly up in arms about this instance makes him look like a fool

These are funny heartfelt emails, and he's gone to some trouble to make his point very very clearly. It's actually rather unfair on Coren that someone is leaking them to the Guardian. Good for the assembled snarkers though.
posted by roofus at 5:15 AM on July 24, 2008


He is right, but he is asshole.
posted by beelzbubba at 5:15 AM on July 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm also a UK English speaker, and Jewish; my parents both speak fluent Yiddish, and while I'm not fluent "a nosh" is definitely correct. In fact, I'd say I've rarely heard anyone use it in the form of "go for nosh". It's like the word "snack". "Where shall we go for a snack?" is right. "Where shall we go for snack?" just sounds weird.

So I'm definitely with Coren on the grammatical point. Whether the flamboyant displays of anger are justified or useful.... I've always thought you catch more flies with honey.
posted by acalthla at 5:18 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally, I accidentally re-read an old MeTa comment of my own yesterday.

If someone needs help expressing themselves, help them. If they specifically ask you to stop helping and there is no overwhelming reason to override that request, stay the hell out. Anything else is patronizing, if not outright authoritarian.
posted by DU at 5:19 AM on July 24, 2008


Hate to see how this child reacts if he ever encounters a real, adult, grown-up problem in the real, adult, grown-up world.
posted by jbickers at 5:19 AM on July 24, 2008


Wow, I didn't know Harlan Ellison had become a food critic.
posted by localroger at 5:22 AM on July 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Best typo of the day:

"...like a pissed Irish plasterer restoring a renaissance fresco and thinking jesus looks shit with a bear so plastering over it."

Jesus would not look shit with a bear. He would be riding it, to Excellence Castle.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 5:23 AM on July 24, 2008 [10 favorites]


Is that a bear as in a scary creature in the woods or a hairy homosexual man?

On such shades of meaning do thousand word rants rest....
posted by rhymer at 5:33 AM on July 24, 2008


He's right about the unstressed last syllable, which is horrid. He's wrong in thinking that the "going for a nosh" joke was worth keeping, let alone writing an entire paragraph as a set-up for.

I've had much better jokes ruined by subs in my life, and I was always content to seethe quietly to myself, assume that they were Nazi paedophiles and plot to firebomb their offices and then laugh, laugh, laugh wildly as the dancing flames started to melt their eyeballs. This letter seems like an over-reaction.
posted by flashboy at 5:34 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes, anger can make a man verbose. It can also, it seems, make a man an absolute bell-end. All it's missing is don't you know who I am?
posted by liquidindian at 5:35 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Y'know, that subbing change did fuck up his joke, and completely change the sense of the paragraph. I work in comms, and I'd be pissed off if someone made what they thought was a grammatical correction to my work without asking me, and demolished the sense of the words.

And for the snarkster saying 'Oh, grow up and find real problems to get upset about', this is the man's career you're talking about, and he's clearly a perfectionist. I'd imagine architects would get equally pissed off if someone changed the dimensions of the house they were building without telling them because they thought it looked better.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:35 AM on July 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


He does sound like a perfectionist, but I'd hardly call this complaint a symptom of that. They ruined an entire section of the piece. Like your architect example--it's not perfectionism to complain if someone moves the picture window from the living room to the attic because "it's just some glass".
posted by DU at 5:42 AM on July 24, 2008


The subs have a career too, which they take very, very seriously.
posted by MrMerlot at 5:45 AM on July 24, 2008


Giles Coren is clearly the kind of man who is infinitely more amusing when he's angry than when he is placid and docile. It is therefore the duty of copy editors everywhere to keep his vagina extra sandy by constantly omitting indefinite articles, misplacing random commas, and breaking up his long sentences. Their goal is not to get his goat, it's to hold that darn thing hostage, ensuring hours of laughs for those of us who enjoy watching Yosemite Sam blow his top.

The problem is that a man can't stay that angry for that long popping out precious pearls of vitriol, and there will soon come a day where I predict this unfortunate will suffer a brain aneurysm right at his computer, and as the emergency personnel rush him out of his home, they'll see his last sentence looking something like this:
if i have told you once i have told you sodding twatting cug78l;;;;;;;;;
posted by Spatch at 5:46 AM on July 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


I've never known that "nosh" could be slang for a blow job, but I'll put it aside as a Britishism. As a Yiddish expression, though, it's utterly incorrect without the indefinite article. Only a shameless goy would use the word as a general synonym for "food." Get some culture, Times editors. Coren is in the right.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:48 AM on July 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, speaking as an editor, I make tiny corrections like this all the time. If a writer were to inform me that I was in the wrong and had botched up a colloquialism with which I was unfamiliar, I would apologize profusely and change it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:51 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Incidentally the article is here, still without an 'a' in the last sentence. Looking at Coren's email though, I do start to feel sympathy for the sub. If he sends in his copy in the same typo-ridden state as his email, it must be hard to know what's intentional and what's not.
posted by acalthla at 5:51 AM on July 24, 2008


I don't care if he is right. The man is yet another media dynasty walking phallus infecting the British landscape like an electric boil. I hope he chokes on his own nepotistic reality.
posted by The Salaryman at 5:52 AM on July 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why would you change a sentnece aso that it meant something i didn't mean?

That is hilarious.
posted by honest knave at 5:52 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Where shall we go for a snack?" is right. "Where shall we go for snack?" just sounds weird.

Yeah, but don't you folks say you go "to university"?

I keed, I keed.
posted by JaredSeth at 5:55 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you don't want some knucklehead butchering the shit out of your writing you're better off not writing for a newspaper.
posted by The Straightener at 5:56 AM on July 24, 2008


Jesus Christ...

This guy is a fucking idiot.

That's FUCKING IDIOT; as in F, U, C, K, I, N and G followed by I, D, I, O and T.

He's racist, boorish, chauvinist, elitist, annoying and simply downright rude.


As enamoured as he is to the vernacular, he should be famililar with the term TWAT. A more perfect example of such I have never encountered.


Mephisto
posted by Mephisto at 5:58 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Personally, I just want to see the renaissance fresco which depicts Jesus and a bear.
posted by MrMustard at 6:04 AM on July 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


He's right. What's the sense in having copy editors who actually make the writing worse? Some writers depend on editors to catch small errors, and don't mind if once in a while they get it wrong; some writers need and get edited so heavily you would never recognize their work as professional if you saw it in its raw form; and some writers are perfectionists like this fellow, and scream bloody murder if you change a stroke.

What I find silly is that there have obviously been run-ins with changing his copy before, so why didn't the sub take the minute to double-check that change? Just a simple dictionary check? It wasn't a good change for meaning, usage or cadence, and I agree that it sounds a lot worse without the "a".

If you are a writer or an editor, the words are your business; caring about them is your job.
posted by taz at 6:04 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I only wrote that sodding paragraph to make that joke. And you've fucking stripped it out like a pissed Irish plasterer restoring a renaissance fresco and thinking jesus looks shit with a bear so plastering over it.

I'm with the sub-editor - nobody was going to get the joke anyway and it seems completely out of place in a restaurant review. And it was just a restaurant review - not Finnegan's fucking Wake. Restaurant reviews are not renaissance frescos and renaissance frescos rarely contain obscure blow job jokes. And why the racist reference to a drunken Irish plasterer? Wouldn't a drunken plasterer have sufficed? He should get over himself.
posted by jamespake at 6:05 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here ya go MrMustard.
posted by netbros at 6:07 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


The thing is, it was a pretty poor excuse for a joke to begin with, at least in the context of a restaurant review for the Times, since 95% of the readership won't be familiar with it as slang for a blowjob (the sub-editor(s) obviously didn't).
And that 5% would probably also know that there are few less-nice places to sit and look out the window than the street upon which G.A.Y. is located, so they would be confused to begin with, and also probably downright insulted by Coren's assertion that that is what all the gay men wonder about as they mince along the streets of Soho.
posted by Flashman at 6:10 AM on July 24, 2008


Of course, the main reason he's pissed off is that he wants a collected book out these reviews, like Will Self.
posted by liquidindian at 6:11 AM on July 24, 2008


I've had subs on the Times cut every single joke from a piece of mine, and I had to suck it up and admit it was a better piece as a result. Subs can be bloody idiots from time to time (speaking as a former) but generally they know what they're doing. Giles Coren, meanwhile, is half the man his father was and half as funny, and knows it.
posted by Hogshead at 6:11 AM on July 24, 2008


And those third-world peasants bent over in fields fifteen hours a day think they have bad days at work!
posted by Rykey at 6:13 AM on July 24, 2008


Coren is my new hero. I have to deal with dribbling, knuckle-dragging morons changing my copy all the time but I don't get to complain like this. (Like the guy who didn't know regimen was a word and corrected it to "regime." Sheesh.) Go Coren!
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:13 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I saw Giles Corey with the Devil!!

Oh, wait. Wrong guy.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 6:13 AM on July 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


And those third-world peasants bent over in fields fifteen hours a day think they have bad days at work!

So, you never complain about your job then?
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 6:14 AM on July 24, 2008


I didn't know slang meaning before I read his rant, but my initial reaction upon reading the edit was a cringing "Wow, way to make the guy look like he doesn't know Yiddish." It was a shitty edit.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:21 AM on July 24, 2008


Twunt.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 6:22 AM on July 24, 2008


If somebody ruined my wink-and-a-nod blowjob joke I'd be furious too.
posted by boo_radley at 6:22 AM on July 24, 2008


i care about my work; i worry about small details (although it's software, not english). but i would never complain like that about a change.

what makes me angry is this romantic notion that someone who makes a fuss like this is automatically better than someone who doesn't. the idea that it's evidence of their greatness. it is not.
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 6:23 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like the guy who didn't know regimen was a word and corrected it to "regime." Sheesh.

Dude, I've got a story in the paper today with a picture that's captioned, "seen here with a cache of weapons and a Teflon vest."

Now, what the fuck kind of bullet is a Teflon vest going to stop? KEVLAR, man, K-E-V-L-A-R, just like I told you at 8:30 last night like five minutes before the thing filed. Thanks for making me look like a fucking idiot.
posted by The Straightener at 6:24 AM on July 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


He could have avoided this whole thing by writing "I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a banger in the mouth." Of course, in the states you'd call it a "sausage in the mouth". </arrested development reference>
posted by bjrn at 6:26 AM on July 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


i don't know any restaurant critics personally. what i know of restaurant critics, though, is that they're pompous asses. thank you, giles coren, for keeping my suspicions consistent.

and what The Salaryman and Mephisto said.
posted by msconduct at 6:28 AM on July 24, 2008


Now, what the fuck kind of bullet is a Teflon vest going to stop?

Wouldn't they just slide right off?
posted by Grangousier at 6:34 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


The idiot drinks rose for god's sake...

But, he was right when he said "Coren is an illiterate cunt.."

So, he gets points for that, or at least "a" point.
posted by HuronBob at 6:34 AM on July 24, 2008


...and also probably downright insulted by Coren's assertion that that is what all the gay men wonder about as they mince along the streets of Soho.

Hey, be fair now! He says explicitly that the joke was "Not specifically gay, for this is soho, and there are plenty of girls there who take money for noshing boys." It's not just queers who suck cock, it's queers and whores.
posted by flashboy at 6:40 AM on July 24, 2008


This reminds me of that angry letter that was sent to Neil Armstrong after Apollo 11:

Just twelve words, Neil, that's all you had to remember. I even made one of them a contraction for you, otherwise it would have been thirteen.

I told you to say: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

You actually said: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Do I even need to explain to you why this was the worst possible way you could mangle your simple task? "A man" is you. You are not important, you are just some guy in a funny suit bouncing around on a ball of rock. 'Mankind' is everyone who is living, who has lived and who will ever live. 'Man' in general is exactly the same as 'mankind'.

I was using a device writers refer to as 'Metaphor' (you might have heard of it). I was trying to explain to people that you awkwardly descending down a ladder is one of the most important events in the history of our species. Instead, millions of people are sitting in their living rooms thinking "Wait, was that a small step or a giant leap for us? His phrasing was ambiguous about that." Instead of going down in history as one of our greatest achievements, thanks to you the moon landing will just be confusing footnote. Great job, astrojerk.

posted by burnmp3s at 6:45 AM on July 24, 2008 [20 favorites]


Regardless of whether it was a good joke he was making, the loss of the indefinite article made Coren's last sentence completely meaningless and pretty stupid.

Now, if I had ever verbally (or textually) abused a copyeditor in the way he has, I'd have been fired immediately. You can complain, but ... Jesus. Complaining and going on a rampage are two different things.

Then again, maybe he was making another joke, while pointing out the error. I don't know this guy; maybe he does this sort of stuff all the time and people don't take it to heart because they think it's funny.

Still ... there were so many times I wanted to ream out the copy desk for doing completely asinine things to my writing, and I missed every opportunity. So I'll have to live vicariously through this Giles guy.

(Imagine what sort of reaction he would have had if they'd screwed up his lede!)
posted by brina at 6:46 AM on July 24, 2008


Excellent stuff. I'm not a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination and I find people who are, in real life, to be insuffrable to deal with, but I do love a lot of the art created by them.

Stanley Kubrick might have been able to make a few more movies had he been of the "fuck it, that'll do" school of thought, but I'm glad he obsessed over every detail.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:53 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


The online version of the review now has the following comment:

I can't believe you ended the review on an unstressed syllable. That's not like you at all.

Adam Bovary, London,

Nice one.
posted by jamespake at 6:55 AM on July 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think that was a joke, Rykey.

Oh, well. At least Coren managed to summon the aplomb to accept his 2005 "Bad Sex in Fiction" award gracefully. :)
posted by taz at 6:56 AM on July 24, 2008


I've got a story in the paper today with a picture that's captioned, "seen here with a cache of weapons and a Teflon vest."

I feel your pain. At least they didn't change "cache" to "catch." I've seen that.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:56 AM on July 24, 2008


Massive over-reaction, but I can feel his pain - a tiny change like that which fucks up a paragraph is always much more annoying than a whole paragraph being snipped.

The only time I've ever sent an email that full of rage was when some idiot changed the final paragraph of a piece to mean the exact opposite of what I wrote, making me look like a total loon who'd written 500 words of fulsome praise only to turn around and slag off the show I was reviewing in the last couple of sentences.
posted by jack_mo at 6:56 AM on July 24, 2008


He's not a moron, he's a highly paid restaurant reviewer for The Times- I suspect the job would be a bit much for a moron.
mattoxic, I am royally pissed. I write a sentence including a perfectly good use of the word 'maroon,' and some useless cunt on an internet discussion board decides to excise the 'a' and replace it with one of the 'o's, completely changing the meaning of my comment. How dare you? Don't ever ask me to write any comments for you to read, ever again. Also don't send me the royalties for that comment; I'd rather be a sacrificial progressive in a Powerline thread than waste my priceless literary seed on the likes of you. Keep it up, and I'll write my next reply without any capital letters to show just what a versatile writer I am.

Preciously yours,
Kirth
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:57 AM on July 24, 2008


Thanks netbros. That just made a pretty weird day that little bit weirder.
posted by MrMustard at 6:58 AM on July 24, 2008


I was on his side until he decided to throw in the ethnic slur about the drunken Irish plasterer.
posted by rocket88 at 7:05 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I will now explain why your error is even more shit than it looks. You see, i was making a joke. I do that sometimes. I have set up the street as "sexually-charged". I have described the shenanigans across the road at G.A.Y.. I have used the word 'gaily' as a gentle nudge. And "looking for a nosh" has a secondary meaning of looking for a blowjob.

In related news: London's G-A-Y Nightclub to Close.
posted by ericb at 7:07 AM on July 24, 2008


And for the snarkster saying 'Oh, grow up and find real problems to get upset about', this is the man's career you're talking about, and he's clearly a perfectionist. I'd imagine architects would get equally pissed off if someone changed the dimensions of the house they were building without telling them because they thought it looked better.

Whoop-te-doo, he's a perfectionist. Bully for him and his precious little ass. That doesn't excuse sub-childish behavior in response to an error. The headline in the last link nails it - "abusive letter." There's the way adults behave when confronting a problem, and then there's the way foul-mouthed juveniles behave when their toys are taken away.

Also, it's hilarious that this "perfectionist"'s letter contains errors. Love that part.
posted by jbickers at 7:10 AM on July 24, 2008


There seems to be some history of his not liking the editing his work undergoes, but to get publicly up in arms about this instance makes him look like a fool.

I don't think he was looking for this to be made public. It appears that it was one (of many) leaked internal e-mails.
posted by ericb at 7:11 AM on July 24, 2008


I used to love listening to my wife go round and round on the phone with the copyeditors at her last paper. One highlight was when they called her to inform her they were removing a reference to alchemy in the first paragraph, a somewhat important metaphor to open the article, because they figured the readers wouldn't get it and would run away screaming like frightened villagers. At this particular paper, writers battled daily with editors not to have their copy dumbed down.

My wife countered patiently that it's a common word, and the readers would be just fine with it. Then there was a pause, during which I found out later that the copyeditor was claiming that no one in the department knew what it meant, followed by my wife blurting out "AND YOU FUCKERS WENT TO COLLEGE?" At which point I found a bottle of wine.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:12 AM on July 24, 2008 [21 favorites]


Or, what roofus said above regarding these being leaked e-mails by disgruntled sub-editors!
posted by ericb at 7:13 AM on July 24, 2008


Oh the hilarity.
posted by Jofus at 7:24 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


The idiot drinks rose for god's sake...

Rosé wines have been "all the craze" these past few summers.
U.S.: Summer Rosé Wine Craze Produces Pink Port, $100 'Cult' Bottles

UK: Rosé Wine Sales Soar Across Britain.
I suspect he invoked the wine to indicate then trend and its supposed "hipness," etc.
posted by ericb at 7:27 AM on July 24, 2008


Can't contribute anything meaningful to this discussion (was it about beans? I forgot), but be sure to check out Jofus's link.
posted by Anderson_Localized at 7:30 AM on July 24, 2008


He was really funny on The Supersizers Go... shows and Sue Perkins is the perfect foil for his hedonistic ways.

I actually found this letter to be pretty damned funny... and I agree with him. A nosh is better then _ nosh. If I were being published nationally, I would not want people to remove words willy-nilly.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:31 AM on July 24, 2008


He meant drunken Irish, plastered.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:35 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jamespake: I'm with the sub-editor - nobody was going to get the joke anyway and it seems completely out of place in a restaurant review. And it was just a restaurant review - not Finnegan's fucking Wake.

True, but Coren's reviews are, however, one of the few things in The Times's Saturday magazine worth reading (with the exception of the gardening tips column). That Coren's reviews very rarely touch on the restaurant or food in question is part of their appeal.
posted by bright cold day at 7:39 AM on July 24, 2008


I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and i have never ended on an unstressed syllable. Fuck. fuck, fuck, fuck.

He didn't then, and he doesn't now.
posted by bicyclefish at 7:49 AM on July 24, 2008


Most of his syllables sound pretty stressed to me.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 7:51 AM on July 24, 2008


Much ado about noshing.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:55 AM on July 24, 2008 [12 favorites]


One of the most excruciating subs' errors I saw was in, I'm 99% sure, the UK Times Sunday books section. It just screamed "magnificently stupid yet oddly logical correction made without checking by a sub".

It was the small print book title over a capsule review for the paperback version of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel.

Some half wit had "corrected" it to "Guns, Germans and Steel."
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:56 AM on July 24, 2008


As enamoured as he is to the vernacular, he should be famililar with the term TWAT. A more perfect example of such I have never encountered.


Mephisto
posted by Mephisto at 8:58 AM on July 24


Todd Locken, is that you?
posted by shmegegge at 8:02 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


True, but Coren's reviews are, however, one of the few things in The Times's Saturday magazine worth reading (with the exception of the gardening tips column). That Coren's reviews very rarely touch on the restaurant or food in question is part of their appeal.
posted by bright cold day at 7:39 AM on July 24 [+] [!]


But if they want a feckless fop who churns out self-obsessed, unreadable crap that has nothing to do with the process of reviewing restaurants then why didn't they stick
with A.A. Gill - he was doing it just as well.
posted by jamespake at 8:02 AM on July 24, 2008


What a crappy edit. I didn't get the joke, and think that aspect is pretty irrelevant, but he's right that removing the "a" is both demonstrably wrong and makes it a lousy sentence. Although it's nowhere near Neil Armstrong's similar screwup in terms of overall profile or longevity.

Now, what the fuck kind of bullet is a Teflon vest going to stop?

Fried egg bullets. Is that a trick question?
posted by rusty at 8:04 AM on July 24, 2008



Dear Giles:

Thank you for your letter. I have to confess at the outset that my removal of the indefinite article 'a' before the word 'nosh' was entirely accidental. I certainly didn't mean to cause any offense, as I do honestly respect your writing and look forward to editing your weekly column.

Of course that's a joke. I have absolutely no respect for you. Not a drop. The truth, and this is an unassailable Platonic truth, the truth is that you are a tiresome bore. Read that last bit aloud. It could be heard as 'tiresome bore' to imply that your are unbearably dull, which you are, or it could be heard as 'tiresome boar', which would imply that you have the body odor, bearing, and cultured palette of an animal that wallows in its own shit. But it's understandable that your ear for language is impaired, as your ear hair is approaching an absurd density. It is positively pubic at this point. Do trim it.

No, Giles, deleting the 'a' was no accident. I wanted to delete all the other words as well, but the Editor wouldn't have it.

The reason I deleted the 'a' was simply to get your attention. And now that I have it, I want to communicate a message to you on behalf of your readers:

You aren't funny or witty. You are loud. They aren't the same thing. And your sense of irony and sarcasm is downright Soviet. You witticisms read like excerpts from a eulogy.

To wit, are you serious that the sentence "I can't think of a nicer place to sit this spring over a glass of rosé and watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other, and wondering where to go for a nosh" was supposed to be a joke? About gay oral sex? Because of the double entendre meaning of the Yiddish word 'nosh'? In a food column?! Maybe this is the joke.

We all know how much you enjoy buggering little boys and girls, and the editors are willing to look the other way when they have to, but to make a joke about pedophilial oral sex in a food column? "Uh oh, children, here comes Giles! Better get inside before that putz sprtizes you!" To what end? So the readers can put down their papers and chuckle, "Oh that Giles, always repressing the children's memories! At least wait for the poppers to wear off before you dribble your drivel in our newspaper.

And 'gaily' was supposed to be a clue as to the presence of a joke? Jokes don't have clues, Giles. They have punch lines. And humor. Your joke, like you, was a dud. Be thankful more people didn't recognize it as such.

As for the rest of your inconsequential raging against your mother sub-editors, rest assured that none of us finished your letter. We hope this enrages you further and you die as you lived -- bloated and sweating, hunched over your pallid useless genitals.

Gaily awaiting your aneurysm,

Owen

P.S. Unlike your prick, the pronoun 'i' is large.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:07 AM on July 24, 2008 [21 favorites]


Pastabagel, you forgot the u in humour... or you would've had me going.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:18 AM on July 24, 2008


Jamespake: But if they want a feckless fop who churns out self-obsessed, unreadable crap that has nothing to do with the process of reviewing restaurants then why didn't they stick with A.A. Gill - he was doing it just as well.

Indeed, but then you'd have Gill in The Times's Saturday and Sunday magazines -- and cornering the feckless fop market in such a fashion would be exceptionally poor form.

Makes you wonder: have Gill and Coren ever been seen in the same room together?
posted by bright cold day at 8:20 AM on July 24, 2008


Here's more!
feargus,

I'm emailing to say that your review of osteria emilia, in most ways perfectly fine and good and spot on, pissed me off. i booked, as ever, under a pseudonym, that over made up italian bird did not have a fucking clue who i was (or even who baddiel was, who i ate with because he lives, like me, round the corner). Nor were there any kitchen staff peeking out of any porthole. i appreciate that you have to keep your column as lively as possible - and name dropping david i guess might be exciting for your readers (i'll certainly be doing it in my column) - but in your froth to show how folksy and incognito you are, you did your readers and the restaurant an immense disservice: you suggested that i got some special dispensation in eating a la carte. But if you'd spent a bit more time looking at your lunch menu, and a bit less gawping at me, you'd have noticed that it said, "dishes from the evening a la carte menu are available at lunchtime, with some exceptions".

You said "i didn't have the brass neck to demand anything off the unavailable a la carte". it makes you sound like an utter tit. you are not only a chippy fuck but a lazy journalist. 'brass neck'. learn to write, and take your head out of your arse, you fucking twat.

all the best
giles coren
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:23 AM on July 24, 2008


#345 POSTED BY GILES COREN, JULY 23, 2008 1:30 pm

Chps,

m mghtl pssd ff. hv ddrssd ths t wn, mnd nd Bn bcs dn't knw wh m sppsd t b pssd ff wth ('m ssmng wn, bt fld t mnd nd bn s t's nl fr), nd ls t Tn, wh wsn't hr - f h hd bn 'm gssng t wldn't hv hppnd. dn't rll lk ppl tnkrng wth m cp fr th sk f tnkrng. d nt nj th sggstn tht y hv bttr r r y fr hw wnt m wrds t rd thn d. wn, w dscssd yr trnng thr f m lng sntncs nt sx shrt ns n sngl pc, nd hw tht wsn't gng t hppn nymr, s 'm rll hpng t wsn't y tht fckd p m rvw n strd.
posted by WCityMike at 8:33 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I can't think of a nicer place
to sit this spring over a glass of rosé [to sit over? -ed]
and
watch the boys and girls in the street outside smiling gaily to each other,
and
wondering where to go for a nosh."
posted by naju at 8:41 AM on July 24, 2008 [6 favorites]


It was the small print book title over a capsule review for the paperback version of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel.
Some half wit had "corrected" it to "Guns, Germans and Steel."


Same difference.

Sounds to me like Mr. Coren could do with a refreshing cup of iced coffee.
I know just the place.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:46 AM on July 24, 2008


Yes!

(but is it Coren himself, or the people outside, who are "wondering where to go for a nosh?")
posted by Flashman at 8:47 AM on July 24, 2008


bright cold day: "cornering the feckless fop market in such a fashion would be exceptionally poor form."

You're right, but that's what they've done. I'd forgotten Michael Winner (although at least he did something before becoming a Times Restaurant Reviewer).

Here's the case for the prosecution - the opening paragraphs of three different restaurant reviews in the Times by different reviewers. Can you spot the common theme:

Restaurant review: Michael Winner at Slaley Hall Hotel:

"To work for the Charity Commission, or be a charity commissioner, you need to be as idiotic as my tax inspector, Colin Kain, and that’s saying something.

My first contact with a charity commissioner was in 1984. I wrote asking to set up the Police Memorial Trust to place memorials to officers slain on duty. An arrogant charity commissioner named Rao said, “Are you telling me, Mr Winner, you want to put up memorials to mere policemen? We won’t allow that.”

After I’d finished with him, he’d set up the charity in three hours. I thought of him when the Queen unveiled my National Police Memorial in the Mall. And again recently when our 32nd local memorial was unveiled. This one, to PC Joe Carroll, killed on the A69 near Corbridge, Northumberland." etc.

Restaurant reviews: Giles Coren at Cafe Boheme

"It’s funny, I’d completely forgotten that my friends used to call me “Smiley”. I was sitting here, wondering where to go for dinner, and with whom, and how best to lever the evening into my campaign for smilier restaurants, when the phone rang and a voice said: “Hi, Smiley.”

Smiley. Only my friend Matt, whose voice it was on the phone, calls me that now. And his girlfriend, Sarah. And their oldest child, Maya, my goddaughter, who runs excitedly to the door when I go round, shouts: “Smiley’s here!”, and then heads off to do whatever little girls do until their godfather, who has only once bought them a birthday present, and doesn’t seem to observe Christmas or Easter, has left. " etc...

Restaurant review: AA Gill at Chicago Rib Shack:
"I knew a woman who lived in a discreet mansion block in Maida Vale, north London, one of those red-brick variegated-laurel affairs that give you the impression the planners were unsure whether they needed a crematorium, an umbrella factory or serviced flats for middle-European Jews. Next door was an opera singer, a famous baritone. Don’t you mind living next to a man who can make a noise as loud as a jumbo jet with a stubbed toe? No, no, she said. It wasn’t the singing, the scales, the repeated phrases, even the lieder that bothered her. It was the sex. Oh, yes, I see." etc....

I pity those sub-editors.
posted by jamespake at 8:51 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's get Peter Shann Ford on the case.
posted by Knappster at 8:52 AM on July 24, 2008


i totally thought the "jesus with a bear" thing was some awesome, erudite joke and was a little disappointed to learn it was a typo and the whole joke just an ethnic slur.
posted by noway at 9:06 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


As I read the thing, my first instinct was that the guy was hugely overreacting to some tiny point, but as he went on and on growing more and more verbose and vulgar I realized that it actually was kind of funny in a human-air-raid-siren kind of way.

Though, If I found out that this was all a big inside joke it would be far funnier.
posted by quin at 9:24 AM on July 24, 2008


Jesus and the Bear
posted by kirkaracha at 9:32 AM on July 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Reminds me of the classic free speech conundrum, where you disagree completely with what some bloviating prick is saying but must defend to the death his right to say it. Because on the one hand, this guy's work reeks of pompous ass, with a healthy dollop of smug xenophobia masquerading as wit. (In this one, for example, he attempts to use "Chinaman" ironically - like because he knows some, it's not a slur - and then dismisses the staple meal of all of East Asia as "food for retards." Har har!)

On the other hand, I feel obliged by some kind of professional bond and/or ethical code to take his side, because while he may be a pompous ass, he is a pompous ass who was absolutely right that the edit shouldn't have been made. Me, I used to blow gaskets and lose sleep and have whole days ruined by the speed bumps and other assorted subliteracies inserted in my copy after I'd "signed off" on the "final" draft. Eventually, though, I realized it was better for my quality of life to fight back as hard as I could just once per editor and, if the task seemed sufficiently futile - which it all too often does - to just stop giving a shit.

Which is why, were I nearer in physical proximity, I'd be inviting The Straightener out for a commiseratory pint or six for this line alone:

If you don't want some knucklehead butchering the shit out of your writing you're better off not writing for a newspaper.

To which I'd append: . . . and maybe 75 percent of all magazines.

And then add: Amen, brother.
posted by gompa at 9:36 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


What I love the most about this letter is that it's one of those documents that has the power to be all things to everyone. Sullen copy-editors see a reflection of the tyrannical bloviators they have to work with. Frustrated writers will feel for the tone-deaf bludgeoning that their work is subjected to. Outsiders peek in and feel the satisfaction of a confirmed preconception: wow! Journalists really ARE assholes!

Speaking as one of those writers who can't stand to have his copy touched (and occasionally girds for battle with copy desk), it's safe to say that everyone here is in the wrong. The copy editors seem to be guilty of one of the most irksome sins an editor can commit: making small tweaks to copy for no reason other than personal preference. An author's voice lies in the small choices, not the big sweeps. And our angry critic is very right to point out the importance of last lines. Writers spend ages agonizing over their exact phrasing - ditto ledes - and if it's not up to snuff, editors will kick the copy back and ask for something better. Scansion matters. Rhythm matters. Little side-jokes matter.

On the flip side, Mr. Coren is guilty of acting like a gigantic, egregious prick. There is no defence for acting like a gigantic, egregious prick. But when words you didn't write appear beneath your picture, it's hard not to get your ego involved.

But I'd also suggest something else: I've found that in order to make it through the editorial process, my copy should have a certain ruggedness built in. If an entire point is going to fall apart with the removal of a definite article, then it should be rewritten in a more durable form. When I read edits to my work, my benchmark for grousing isn't "Is this what I wrote?", but "Is this what I could have written?" If it's something I wouldn't have written, I'll object.

One of the challenges of working with copy editors is that they're often pooled, meaning that you never know who you're going to get, and it can be hard to form a working relationship with them. Almost everyone I've worked with has been skilled and considerate. But there are exceptions, and once you've had the experience of finding yourself quoted on some blog as writing something you didn't actually write, but that an editor inferred, it's easy to get grumbly.

And here we are again: if an article is so fragile that it crumbles with a tweak, it deserves what it gets. And if you absolutely must have the final say over every word that appears, then there's a blog with your name on it waiting for you.

Or, you know, MeFi.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:44 AM on July 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


Not to derail, but DuPont, which developed Teflon and Kevlar, originally produced Teflon nylon-mesh for anti-ballistic vests. This was until the introduction of Kevlar, which was lighter and stronger.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:10 AM on July 24, 2008


Do not touch my artistic endeavor! Would you tell Titian "not so much red?"
posted by Cranberry at 10:34 AM on July 24, 2008


Having glanced some of Mr. Coren's writing, my sympathies are firmly with the sub. He's an awful, awful writer. His sentences are bloated, meandering, and largely pointless, and, like someone said above, if his actual copy comes in the same state of his e-mails, who could fucking know what his actual intent was? I'm pretty bad about writing sentences that go on for too long myself, but even I know when I've crossed from a little too long for comfort to totally ridiculous. The sentence in the article gompa linked above starts with a single sentence paragraph which is ninety-two words. Ninety-two! There's no excuse for that in a magazine.

I've noticed this problem a lot with magazine writers, especially the ones for upscale magazines. The New Yorker is just full of blowhards who think it's okay to write sixty-plus word sentences.

I have to sympathize with periodical copyeditors in general. Though I don't know it for a fact, I suspect they mostly have to rush their work, to the point that they probably don't have the time to double check with the author on an intended meaning even if they want to.

That said, this particularly change was obviously incorrect, and while his e-mail was over-the-top and childish, and deserved to be leaked, the sub should certainly have been reprimanded in some way. However, my recommendation for the writers complaining about knuckleheads butchering their copy would be to work for a publication that pays its copyeditors enough to retain the ones who know what they're doing.

Not that there's much chance of finding one.
posted by Caduceus at 10:44 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


By "his e-mail" in the last paragraph I of course meant Coren's, not the subeditor's. That wouldn't make any sense.

*sigh*

posted by Caduceus at 11:02 AM on July 24, 2008


http://twitter.com/gilescoren
posted by ntk at 11:21 AM on July 24, 2008


A sub changed the man's prose without good reason. I'd be pissed off.

A sub didn't change more of that godawful fucking sentence, I'm pissed off.

How exactly does one sit over a rose? And that's just the start of it. The sentence is groaning under the weight of its perversion to try and work in that "joke", which only works if you're aware of the ambiguity in "nosh", and even then is sub-Benny Hill drivel.

Subs can and do make mistakes while re-writing copy, but often times they save cripple-fingered idiots from themselves. As they clearly have to do with Coren quite a lot.

Oh, and as for "ending on a unstressed syllable" ... what a steaming bollocks this man is. Reminds me of the editor who decreed we had "too many soft consonants" in our headlines. Grr.
posted by bonaldi at 11:38 AM on July 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Pastabagel - before I remove the plank from my own eye, can I just ask if sprtizes was intentional spelling to make a (very) subtle joke at this dipshit's expense?

Either way, I'd send the email.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 11:43 AM on July 24, 2008


Not, you know, that I think you're really Owen The Sub Editor or anything.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 11:50 AM on July 24, 2008


Nick,

Alas, no, the misspelling was unintentional. It should be obvious to everyone by now that I'm incapable of both spelling and subtlety.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:52 AM on July 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


As a Yiddish expression, though, it's utterly incorrect without the indefinite article.

You may not have noticed, but the Times is an English-language newspaper written for an English-speaking audience. The rules applied to loan-words like nosh, therefore, would be the ones applied in the use of the loan-word in the English language, not in the original. The subs are, in that instance, most certainly correct, and the writer is most definitely wrong.
posted by rodgerd at 12:29 PM on July 24, 2008


The rules applied to loan-words like nosh, therefore, would be the ones applied in the use of the loan-word in the English language, not in the original. The subs are, in that instance, most certainly correct, and the writer is most definitely wrong.

I was under the impression that "nosh" most directly translates to "snack or light meal." One wouldn't say "wondering where to go for snack." So I think the writer, as insufferable as he is, is correct.
posted by Caduceus at 1:22 PM on July 24, 2008


Am I the only one that thought that the sentence (and the entire review) was crap anyway?
posted by arnicae at 1:57 PM on July 24, 2008


The rules applied to loan-words like nosh, therefore, would be the ones applied in the use of the loan-word in the English language, not in the original. The subs are, in that instance, most certainly correct, and the writer is most definitely wrong.

I'm no englishologist, but I pretty much follow the rule "It's it's a singular non-abstract noun, but not a mass noun, it needs an article". Nosh in that sentence means snack. The writer used it correctly.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:14 PM on July 24, 2008


Also, Sleep! That's where I'm a nosh!
posted by 23skidoo at 2:19 PM on July 24, 2008


I'm a writer, and a sub. Coren is right wrong.
posted by WPW at 2:34 PM on July 24, 2008


What kind of a dickbadger still drinks rosé?

NO I DID NOT RTFA.

[NOT DICKBADGER-IST]
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:57 PM on July 24, 2008


Now there's a chap who needs a nosh.
posted by jimmythefish at 3:31 PM on July 24, 2008


Subs? More like Doms, amirite? Wwwwwh-CHH!




I'll show myself out.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:18 PM on July 24, 2008


Coren is correct, it's better with the "a". While it seems incredibly petty to make such a big deal of it, the situation begs the question: somebody thought it was important enough to remove it.

Coren may be all the nasty things we are saying about him, but he is right, and he is the author. As a designer who has my own work implemented by others - contractors, in this case - frankly I have a fair amount of sympathy for the man who sees his work misinterpreted by people who really don't understand the ramifications of their actions. It's the little things they think they can get away with, but it's precisely the little things that matter.

The sad thing is that people attribute this kind of blowup to pompous-assery, or the "artist's temperament". Spend your life perfecting your art, and some time carefully crafting a particular piece, and you'll blow up as well when some nimrod decides he knows better and alters your work in a way that clearly illustrates his failure to understand it. Sure, it was a lame joke, and maybe nobody but Coren himself would have ever appreciated it, but that's beside the point.
posted by Xoebe at 5:38 PM on July 24, 2008


"To get noshed off" was fairly common terminology in my locale as a lad. It also made an appearance in several other areas of the UK, it transpired when my circle of friends at University included people from various areas of the country.

I think the architect parallel is correct - words are everything he does. His entire output and career pivots solely on his use of words. So to get them royally fucked with would upset anyone so invested in their job. If it happened to me (but in context of my profession) then I'd be at least as angry as him. He's been made to look a tit in a national newspaper (I'm just referring to the Sub Ed bit, here). The release of the email is unfortunate, but it I suspect that it is either part of the joke (with elements of correcting the article/raising his profile/promoting his writing with viral-type marketing) or it is an internal mail that can only be judged in terms of harshness if you know the relationship he has with his editors and subs. I know I could write a similarly worded email to my boss, and he'd find it entirely amusing, yet accept the point. It could be entirely consistent with the humour at the workplace.

But hey, I got the joke, so maybe that's a crazy and out of whack viewpoint.
posted by Brockles at 7:11 PM on July 24, 2008


Holy shit, I just got forwarded the final copy that's already gone to print for part two of this two part story I've been working on and Mr. Copy Editor decided to take out my entire lede and replace it with his own. Of course, he hits all wrong notes and takes the story in a totally wrong direction right out of the gate.

This is EXACTLY why so many writers say fuck it and blog instead.
posted by The Straightener at 7:26 PM on July 24, 2008


He's totally in the right regarding the editing. His words. He may not be a good writer &c &c but they are paying him for his words specifically and his reputation as a writer depends on those words and many, many people will read them.

He is, however, totally in the wrong regarding the ethnic slur and the meanness. I agree with Brockles that we don't know the tone of the office, and maybe these sort of things are pretty common, or that someone always sends a 'hilariously' angry e-mail to someone on Friday or something (I'm not saying that specific situation is likely, just making the point that we don't know their rules). Even so, if I sent that e-mail to an underling there's a chance I'd be fired. Coren won't be, but if they did announce he was being 'let go', I wouldn't consider it an overreaction.

A well paid, famous person who has got a job through a certain degree of nepotistic opportunity should never, ever bully a not-too-well-paid underling. Regardless of the magnitude of error the underling has made.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 8:28 AM on July 25, 2008


misinterpreted by people who really don't understand the ramifications of their actions. It's the little things they think they can get away with, but it's precisely the little things that matter.

This is such bollocks. "Get away with"? It's their job.

Subs understand entirely the ramifications of their actions: more often than not, those actions are to help a writer appear as if he understands English grammar, avoid getting his title sued into oblivion with all his legal mistakes, turn 2000 turgid loose words into 1000 concise and elegant ones, correct his factual mistakes, do his research for him and then present it in such a way that the reader will be dying to read it.

And all those actions have to take place in usually a very tight amount of time, with a queue of other embarrassingly poorly written diatribes backing up. It is not is a hurdle that writer's special snowflakes have to try and avoid on their way to the press.

I have seen more than one writer stand up to win an award that by all rights should have gone to his subs. Only one had the grace to admit it.

He's totally in the right regarding the editing. His words. He may not be a good writer &c &c but they are paying him for his words specifically and his reputation as a writer depends on those words and many, many people will read them.

No, they're paying him for his name and what he's done to write about. The rest is down to the editors. (On tabloids, the subs routinely go well beyond what I've described above, virtually completely retooling every article into the paper's voice. Newspapers aren't the New Yorker. The words are ten a penny. It's the experiences that count.)
posted by bonaldi at 2:51 PM on July 25, 2008


The subs reply.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:03 AM on August 1, 2008


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