Maybe I’m doing OK at this job

I got some good news from the office last week.

Not long ago I posted some of the catches I submitted for consideration for my office’s CQ award honoring catches on the copy desk. Turns out my catches for Q2 won me the award!

Always nice to have a little ego boost. I can get a bit nervous when I see my headlines fail to make it past slot (though I’ve learned that’s often just slot’s preference and not a statement on quality).

The reward? I get a bonus and a bank day I’m going to tack onto my Thanksgiving holiday back home. Also my photo goes up on the newsroom wall. I wonder if the photographers will let me make an awkward, staring face to make everybody’s walk to the elevator a little more uncomfortable for the quarter.

It’s official: Entertainment sites officially biggest overusers of “It’s official”

A few weeks back I groaned at work about a couple stories I was editing both starting with “It’s official.” It’s one of those phrases that gets way overused in news writing, and when your job is to edit news writing for eight hours a day, clichés can drive you nuts.

Out of curiosity I did a Google news search for “It’s official” for the past 24 hours and found dozens of uses of the phrase just for that day.

Then I had a dumb idea.

I remembered how awesome Erica Smith’s project Story of Man is. It’s a Tumblr that features the best/oddest uses of “Man __________” in headlines across the Web. Erica’s work inspired my new Tumblr, The Official Blog of Officialness.

The setup for the blog is pretty easy. I have a Google news alert for “It’s official” that I review each day and post some of the strangest/most newsworthy/most atrocious uses of the phrase. I tend to have a decent number of uses to choose from, typically 40-50 per day.

I’ve noticed in my few weeks of scanning the Google alert that the biggest abusers of the phrase are entertainment sites. It’s a rampant problem for them. It’s used for celebrity break-ups, movie/TV sign-ons, poll results and anything else that can somehow be confirmed.

Sports sites tend to lean on the phrase too heavily when reporting transactions. And political sites aren’t innocent. In fact, the day Mitt Romney announced his vice presidential pick, headlines or ledes to the tune of “It’s official: Romney taps Ryan” made up about a third of the Google alert results for that day.

I’ll keep the Tumblr and its automated Twitter account updated as long as it continues to be fun (good excuse to scour GIFSoup). And maybe it can push some writers to put a bit more effort into original headlines and ledes.

Feel free to spew your crazy about overused newsisms in the comments, or share a link to another project similar to Erica’s and mine.

My best catches: Q2 2012

My office gives out the CQ Award for Copy Editing Excellence quarterly to the copy editor whose recent catches best illustrate how we save the paper’s bacon. This is a sampling of the catches I submitted for Q2 of 2012. UPDATE: These fixes were good enough to take home the award!

Items in strikethrough were removed from the story, highlighted items were added.

April 7 — Killed story for Saturday that was a preview of a speaker who had held his event at UA two days earlier.

April 8 — WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats will kick off a coordinated pressure campaign on Republicans this week ahead of a tax day vote next week on legislation to enact the president’s “Buffett Rule,” which would ensure that the rich pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

NOTE: Tax day 2012 was April 17. April 15 was a Sunday, and April 16 was Emancipation Day in D.C.

April 13 — An attorney for a man whose driver’s license was suspended last year after his arrest for Driving While Intoxicated  he was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated told the state Supreme Court on Thursday that the law allowing such suspensions is unconstitutional.

[REDACTED] was arrested for and charged with driving while intoxicated-drugs on Dec. 21, 2010. The arresting officer seized his driver’s license and gave him a notice of suspension.

NOTE: Libel in the lede because of word “for” (he’s later found not guilty).

April 15 — The online video features Matt Damon, Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, former Saturday Night Live cast member Kristen Wiig, Jack Black, Kevin Spacey and Clinton pals Mary Steenburgen and husband Ted Danson as they brainstorm new initiatives for the Clinton Foundation with a surprise came by former President Bill Clinton.

NOTE: Factual error caught on proof. At time of writing, Kristen Wiig was rumored to be leaving SNL, but nothing had been announced.

April 16 — These inmates are similar to jail trustees trusties, in that they are assigned to do various jobs for the county, which receives $15 a day from the Arkansas Department of Correction for each “309” inmate held.

April 17Of those whose filings were available Monday, Republican Congressional candidates across the state consistently raised more than their Democratic counterparts, according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

Of the $4.17 million raised for the four House races since campaigning began, $3.74 million was raised by Republicans, compared with $423,386 by Democrats.

Republican candidates have $2.2 million in the bank, compared with Democrats, who have $233,588 on hand.

As of Monday, four of the eight Democrats running did not have a quarterly report available on the FEC website. Reports for all six Republican candidates were available online.

NOTE: As last paragraph points out, half of the Democrats’ numbers are missing from FEC site. Introductory clause added to inform readers of the possible skew in numbers.

April 22Cowart’s Cowart and Rankin’s fundraising efforts thus far have been dwarfed by the $890,102 raised by Cotton, according to the Federal Election Commission.

NOTE: Two separate efforts, so each gets ’s.

April 23 — Elliott said Allen touts Act 75 of 2009 that he sponsored to require health-insurance plans to provide coverage for prostrate prostate cancer screening for men 40 years old and older.

April 23 — An airport hotel would compete with four hotels in the vicinity of the airport. They include a Day’s Days Inn, a Holiday Inn and a Holiday Inn Express, all on Bankhead Drive at the airport exit on I-440. A Comfort Inn on East Roosevelt Road sits almost opposite the property eyed for the airport hotel.

May 5 — Thompson took them back to the eastern Ohio farm where her husband released 50 animals — including black bears, mountain lions and Bengal tigers — before he committed suicide. Authorities killed 48 of the animals, fearing for the public’s safety. Two others were presumed eaten by other animals. The surviving animals were found in cages.

Of the animals that Terry Thompson released, Only three leopards, two Celebes macaques and a bear, all unreleased from their cages, survived after Terry Thompson released the rest of the animals. and Those six were taken to the Columbus zoo. One spotted leopard had to be euthanized at the zoo in January. The macaques are small primates; the female weighs about 6 pounds, and the male weighs more than 10 pounds.

NOTE: Clarifies discrepancy between 50 released, 48 killed by authorities, six surviving originally and five returned to owner.

May 5 — The other men acquitted Friday are Fadumo Mohamed Farah, Ahmad Abnulnasir Ahmad, Musse Ahmed Ali, Fatah Haji Hashi, Dahir Nor Ibrahim and Mohamed Ahmed Amalle.

NOTE: Story earlier on says six were acquitted. No previous mention of anyone acquitted.

May 8 — The city has already banned pedestrians from the intersection near City Hall that crosses Broadway Street at the Broadway Bridge crossing Broadway at the north end of its intersection with Markham Street during peak traffic hours.

NOTE: Better explains where intersection is, clarifies pedestrians forbidden only at one end and adds information on hours.

May 28 — Kahne heats up, wins for solidifies Hendrick

NOTE: Deck directly next to this headline on 1C also used the “X wins for Y” construction. Change avoids repeat.

June 26 — Killed business story on Madoff settlement that ran the day before.

June 27 — In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Thomas East for Phyllis East at [REDACTED] Bank., Acc# [REDACTED].

NOTE: Leaving bank account number in leaves account holder prone to identity fraud. Spiking also clears us of potential liability should fraud occur.

June 30 — The meetings arise from the city’s good fortune. Remember that voters in November September approved an increase in the city sales tax of 1 percent, part of which has been dedicated to capital improvements.