Posts tagged editing

But why would a person write to Redbook extolling the great beauty and virtue of Eva Longoria? I have my own set of favorite actors… but I can barely imagine composing a sincere tweet about them, let alone writing multiple paragraphs and then sending them to a magazine for publication. That’s even more true in an era in which it’s so easy to do one’s gushing online, using less formal language. What compels an enthusiastic reader to let Entertainment Weekly know that this year’s fall TV preview was the best ever?

Ruth Graham, Meet the People Who Still Write Letters to the Editor, The Awl.

To answer the question, Ruth Graham interviews four writers of recent letters to the editor in People and Vanity Fair. While this is by no means representative of any kind of trend, three out of four of them are over the age of 60 and three out of four are or have been writers of some sort. Read about them here.

FJP: Here’s a personal thought on reading comments in print vs. online. I generally read about 4 magazines in print per month. I don’t subscribe to any, I just pick up what looks interesting at the train station when I’m visiting my folks. I always stop and read the letters section, both the letter from the editor and the letters to the editor. I do this because when reading in print, I feel I need to orient myself and get a grip on the identity of the publication in hand. It feels like a respectful thing to do. I feel compelled to perform this act of respect because holding an entire issue of a magazine in your hands makes you feel the weight of the effort that went into it. Perhaps it makes no sense, but I want to reciprocate.

The content of these letters to the editor are hardly ever more insightful or intriguing that comments people leave online. Yet because they get an entire printed page, I spend a few extra seconds pondering them than I would something online. And particularly because I’m a child of the age of millennial voyeurism, it’s a strange feeling to read letters to the editor in print and not get to internet stalk the people who wrote them. So, this Awl piece is a fun read. And something I’ve always been curious about. —Jihii

Somewhat related: A NY Times Magazine piece from last weekend on the history, future and quality of comments.

What Miles Davis Can Teach Us About Writing

The New York Times’ Opinionator blog has an ongoing series called Draft about the art and craft of writing. Today, Aaron Gilbreath looks at Miles Davis and how the sparsity of his solos tell stories in their silences and how writers can do well by doing the same.

Where David Foster Wallace showed writers like me the possibilities of labyrinthine stories and digressions, Davis showed me how to be affecting without being opaque, lyrical without being verbose. Editing imbued each of Davis’s notes with more weight. It also let his melodic lines breathe, an effect that highlighted the depth and strength of his lyricism. No matter the tempo, Davis’s precise, deft touch produced solos whose moods ranged from buoyant to brooding, mournful to sweet.

Many writers fall prey to the quintessential American notion that bigger is better. They overload their sentences, adding more adjectives, more descriptions, more component phrases, tangents and appositives to form sprawling, syntactical centipedes (like this one) whose many segments and exhausting procession repeat themselves and say the same thing in different ways, with different words, and exhibit an entire ideology: that prose’s sensory and poetic impacts exist in direct proportion to the concentration of words.

Aaron Gilbreath, New York Times. Writing with Miles Davis.

Video: Kind of Blue 50th Anniversary, via Legacy Recordings.

We decided to credit editors because they live and breath the stories they work on, and I felt that some kind of recognition was due. It’s really as simple as that. The kind of work they do varies widely from story to story, it’s very difficult to generalize. What makes our editors so good is they know how to do a light line editing, when that’s all that’s required, and they know how to wrestle something to the ground, when that’s what’s required. Usually, it’s somewhere in between.

Hugo Lindgren, Editor, New York Times Magazine. Reddit. I’m Hugo Lindgren, editor of the New York Times magazine.

Hugo Lindgren spent time on Reddit’s IAmA board yesterday to answer questions about his career, magazines and journalism. Here, he’s talking about giving editors byline credits in the magazine.

His thoughts are great on other topics too, especially for those looking to get into magazines.

My head is still throbbing.

Over at Fuel Your Writing, Eric Kuentz takes Ernest Hemingway’s “write drunk; edit sober” edict to heart and sacrifices himself to a boozy experiment: where will a case of beer, a bottle of Chianti and some brandy bring his writing.

He survives a hangover to tell the tale.

The Secret Lives of Fact Checkers

Fictional magazine Dictum has a crack Fact Checking Unit that’s on a mission to see if Bill Murray drinks warm milk before going to bed.

Starring Bill Murray, Peter Karinen, Brian Sacca, Kristen Schaal.

Directed by Dan Beers.

H/T: Slate.

Is that Sucking Sound Video Houses Abandoning Final Cut Pro

Final Cut Pro got a major overhaul last year with the release of Final Cut Pro X. Video professionals by and large weren’t happy. Editors with legacy projects were especially unhappy when they discovered that FCPX doesn’t support projects created in previous versions of the program.

Ars Technica surveys some of the video industry’s leading video pros. Here’s some of what they found

Six months after the launch of Final Cut Pro X (FCPX), Apple’s major overhaul to its professional video editing software Final Cut Pro, video pros find themselves increasingly looking at other software options. The new version of Final Cut Pro was controversial—there were significant changes to the Final Cut interface, a plethora of editing features were taken away, and worst of all, Final Cut Pro X was rendered unable to import projects from previous versions of the software. For video editors and producers with years of work using Final Cut Pro, the launch of Final Cut Pro X made it seem like Apple no longer cared for its market of creative professionals.

Final Cut Pro X Tutorial

FCP X Tutorial

I’m sitting on a couch at my brother’s house outside Chicago, nursing a broken foot with some pain killers, and watching a great series of Final Cut X tutorial videos.

As a bonus, the narrator sounds like Bruce from Family Guy. It might be the pain killers, but he makes me giggle…

- Peter

Professional Video Editors Weigh In on Final Cut Pro X - NYTimes.com

shaneguiter:

The Bottom Line: Apple has followed the typical Apple sequence: (1) throw out something that’s popular and comfortable but increasingly ancient, (2) replace it with something that’s slick and modern and forward-looking and incomplete, (3) spend another year finishing it up, restoring missing pieces.

Professional editors should (1) learn to tell what’s really missing from what’s just been moved around, (2) recognize that there’s no obligation to switch from the old program yet, (3) monitor the progress of FCP X and its ecosystem, and especially (4) be willing to consider that a radical new design may be unfamiliar, but may, in the long term, actually be better.

The bigger issue is that journalists are completely innumerate. I can count on one hand the number of journalists who have any understanding of mathematics.

Andrew, in response to this

Not to totally excuse David Brooks here, but his editors share the blame here. A good editor is a reader advocate, and should be adding up and questioning these figures during the editing process.

This is a particular problem with opinion pieces; we’ve all read columns that are chock full of outrageous, untrue bullshit. Editors who let this stuff through typically do it with the excuse that “this is an opinion piece.” True, but facts aren’t a matter of opinion, and a publication has abdicated its role if it allows its opinion writers to publish things that are simply wrong. 

(via markcoatney)

utnereader:

Long-form journalism—nuanced, rigorous, eloquent, and reasonable—is a mode of writing quickly being swept into the ashy dustbin of history.
The previous sentence, punctuation included, is 140 characters long, which is the maximum length of a tweet and—according to media scholars, news anchors, and frustrated teachers—the maximum attention span of anyone with a computer. Facebook status updates, overflowing RSS feeds, and smartphones are symptoms of a deeper malady, a hunger to consume more and more information. It would seem that painstakingly-crafted essays and deeply-researched journalism stand no chance in this hyperactive environment.
On the contrary, Wired’s Clive Thompson argues that info-nibbles like status updates, tweets, and news briefs increase our appetite for in-depth, long-form writing.

utnereader:

Long-form journalism—nuanced, rigorous, eloquent, and reasonable—is a mode of writing quickly being swept into the ashy dustbin of history.

The previous sentence, punctuation included, is 140 characters long, which is the maximum length of a tweet and—according to media scholars, news anchors, and frustrated teachers—the maximum attention span of anyone with a computer. Facebook status updates, overflowing RSS feeds, and smartphones are symptoms of a deeper malady, a hunger to consume more and more information. It would seem that painstakingly-crafted essays and deeply-researched journalism stand no chance in this hyperactive environment.

On the contrary, Wired’s Clive Thompson argues that info-nibbles like status updates, tweets, and news briefs increase our appetite for in-depth, long-form writing.

You are not writing to impress the scientist you have just interviewed, nor the professor who got you through your degree, nor the editor who foolishly turned you down, or the rather dishy person you just met at a party and told you were a writer. Or even your mother. You are writing to impress someone hanging from a strap in the tube between Parson’s Green and Putney, who will stop reading in a fifth of a second, given a chance.
Tim Radford, Former Guardian science editor, letters editor, arts editor and literary editor, A manifesto for the simple scribe – my 25 commandments for journalists

Lessons in Narrative Journalism

With bells, whistles and technologies oh, my, we sometimes miss the forest for the trees, forgetting that good journalism is good facts wrapped with good storytelling.

Steve Buttry, Director of Community Engagement at TBD, walks us through one of his favorite reported pieces and gives the following tips on creating engaging narrative journalism:

  • Write as you report
  • Get tapes where you can
  • Get records where you can
  • Identify story elements
  • Use dialogue instead of quotes
  • Keep you lead brief and enticing
  • Identify your key moments
  • Keep your beginning in mind when you write the ending
  • Read your story aloud

For details on each of these bullets, visit Steve’s blog.

Pictures of people about to die, less final than images of death, capture a particularly powerful moment in the middle of a sequence of action—a child about to keel over from starvation, a woman about to be engulfed by a mudslide, a dirigible about to explode—and freeze it for repeated display and engagement. Focusing on the human anguish of people facing death, they replay this moment in news and beyond without necessarily showing visual evidence that the people in fact died. Viewers thus can and do go in many directions with an image’s interpretation—refuting death, debating its particulars, providing multiple and often erroneous contexts for its understanding.

Pictures of people about to die, less graphic than pictures of corpses and body parts, also play on different parts of a viewer’s psyche. Where images of dead bodies often push viewers away, creating a sense of distance and objectification, images of impending death do the opposite: They often draw viewers in, fostering engagement, creating empathy and subjective involvement, inviting debate.

Barbie Zelizer, Author, About To Die: How News Images Move the Public, on journalism’s relationship to images of death.