Lessons to be learned from the miner debacle

My former news editor, the honorable [Fred Vultee](http://headsuptheblog.blogspot.com/) has a great discussion going about [what you can, can’t, and definitely should put in a headline](http://headsuptheblog.blogspot.com/2006/01/mine-disaster-attributions-your-friend.html) about the status of trapped coal miners.

I wasn’t paying terribly much attention to the story until the story became about the story — metajournalism?

I couldn’t believe the shoddy sourcing the papers, and TV, were using. (Ok, I __could__ believe TV was using such shoddy sourcing.) The governor heard from a relative at the church who got a phone call from someone else — give me a break!

While I was reading about the aforementioned shoddy sourcing I kept hearing this voice in my head saying, “says who?”

“Says who?!”

The voice was Fred’s. That phrase was one of many I’d often hear him saying to me, or the copy editors we we’re supervising at the [Missourian](http://digmo.com).

Fred’s got a great listserv for current and former [Missourian](http://digmo.com) copy editors, headsup, that’s always been a fun time, at least for people who think copy editing is fun (a small minority of which I’m proud to be a member).

Bowing to Web 2.0 pressure, or just because he can, Fred has added a blog aptly named [headsuptheblog](http://headsuptheblog.blogspot.com/).

So, to make my long blog entry short, Fred’s got some great thoughts on the whole miner debacle going that you should read, but I thought this was a particularly good nugget o’ wisdom ™(patent pending):

It reminds us, or ought to remind us, of a few phrases that ought to be translated into Latin and etched in stone above the copy desk, so we can point to them when needed:

1. If attribution is part of the story, it’s part of the hed.
2. Speculation isn’t confirmation.
3. Repetition isn’t confirmation.

About Chris

Python developer, Agile practitioner trying desperately not to be a pointy haired boss.
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