Avoiding errors in news copy

You’ll want to read this one and then post it in several places around the office, and maybe put it in your online stylebook (if you don’t have one, that’s another issue to address). There are actually 44 tips for reducing errors, and they’re down-to-earth, common-sense ideas. Like #3: Always find the first reference to a person in copy. Make sure that on first reference you have a first name and title, and doublecheck to make sure the first reference hasn’t be omitted rearranged or deleted in trimming copy. To which I would add: Make sure the reporter hasn’t omitted the first name of the mayor, just calling him Mayor Smith on first reference. Simple stuff, but really valuable as a review for new employees.

By Kathryn Jones Malone

Kathryn Jones Malone is co-director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism. She began her career as a staff writer at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, then worked as a staff writer for the Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News; as a contract writer for The New York Times; as a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly magazine; as editor of the Glen Rose Reporter; and as a freelance writer for numerous state, regional and national magazines. She teaches journalism at Tarleton State University.