Sunday, February 03, 2008


The lost art of copy editing (2)--comics, transit pictures, more?

by Larry Geller

In my article on the sudden change in their comics page last week. I assumed it was a deliberate choice to revert the comics to an earlier selection, regrettably done without any notice. The regular comics are back this week. Whew! And seven days after the switch, there is an explanation.

Editor Mark Platte devoted his entire After Deadline column to explaining how it happened. In a nutshell:

Someone at Western Colorprint out of Denver (which transmits our comics) sent the wrong file, according to Debbra Abeyta, the vice president of operations for Western Colorprint.

But where was the Advertiser's copy editor? The comic section and enclosed ads are dumped in the parking lot of my condo building a couple of days ahead of time. They are assembled into the rest of the paper by the delivery people. Can it be that no one noticed that a whole newspaper section was printed wrong in that time? Even a tiny box in the Sunday paper could have assuaged the concerns Platt said he received about the goofup. Unless I missed it, there's been no explanation printed until today.

Better question: couldn't they have contacted their supplier for a corrected file? I'm guessing it's all digital, we're not talking about waiting for the pony express from Denver or anything like that.

Don't they have copy editors at the Advertiser at all now? As a former college paper copy editor and managing editor, I'm saddened to read the excuse. And what about pressmen? Didn't anyone pick up the phone to say, "Hey, this isn't our paper we're printing? Do you guys mean to do this?" The comics section passed through many hands, I assume, in order to stick on that offensive flap ad for flooring that makes it so difficult to hold the section together.

Let's examine today's paper just a bit more.

Turn over your Focus section to the back page. Exactly behind Platte's column are pictures of four candidate transit systems for Honolulu. The first is identified as the Advanced Public Transit System, aka the Phileas APT system. I wrote about this system in August, 2007, so I thought the picture was wrong. Indeed, it seems to be the Translohr system, not the APT system.

The second picture is identified as Siemens Transportation Systems but is appears to be the ALSTOM.

More goofs a copy editor might have caught. How many more are there? It's not just a comics page issue.

If you'd like to see pictures of all the candidate systems, correctly identified, check here. Or if you have a copy of the January 30 paper, check the pics there, or the same photo gallery on their website  here.


Hmmm. If I were an enterprising culture jammer, I'd figure out how to spoof an email that would result in *MY* favorite funnies being published in the Advertiser, even if only for one Sunday... :)

Nice job on this one, Larry.

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