Oh, how meta

Re: “Say hello to your new public editor” | Commentary | November 23

I was frustrated to find my first column published with a number of syntactic errors and, worse, written in a journalistic voice that did not sound at all like me. An early line read, “I hope the paper’s readership will help me to better articulate your sentiments by communicating your feelings about the paper to me.” “The paper’s readership” replaced my original “you,” mangling the sentence grammatically and obscuring the fact that, truly, I write to and for you, the individual reader. The penultimate paragraph, altered to include the awful period/conjunction combination (“…we do not need to shy away from drawing anything…Mafiosi; army medic; et cetera. If we can say it aloud…,”) an asinine joke-indicator employed by the unsubtle and grammatically lazy, added insult to otherwise bearable injury.

The Daily’s four-step editing process, as it relates to an article’s content, deserves treatment at greater length in a future column. The problem at hand lies in grammatical editing, and is entirely sympathetic: editors strive to maximize clarity while retaining the author’s original content and tone, and cannot always succeed at both. My first column, however, evinces the consequences of editorial overzealousness, and the importance of distinguishing between grammatical error and stylistic preference. Editors: what it is at stake here is the journalistic diversity of The Daily. If articles are edited to suit the stylistic preferences of the 18 members of the editorial staff (four at a time,) then we will end up with a paper filled with pieces that sound like you but have our names on them.

I would also like to fill in an omission made by one of the editors: what read “This year I have read the paper for the topics that stir my interest” should have read “I, like you, have read for the topics that stir my interest.” That I hope my column will be relatable to The Daily’s readers is, for me and for the column, a hugely important affirmation, which the editor deleted along with those three small words.

Mike Prebil
Daily public editor
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