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Phillip Blanchard

Peevish pursuit and the silliness that is business journalism
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Peevish pursuit and the silliness that is business journalism

By on Jul 30, 2013

It’s hardly the most pressing issue in business editing, but the habit of shortening the nicknames of the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Association continues to be an impediment to clarity. The nicknames amount to baby talk. The FNMA (another abbreviation) is known as Fannie Mae, which itself is silly. […]

Be wary of big numbers, especially nice round ones
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Be wary of big numbers, especially nice round ones

I last wrote about big numbers in December 2011. It’s time for a refresher. The New York Times Magazine ran a praiseworthy piece this month headlined “The Half-Trillion-Dollar Depression” and written by the Times economics reporter Catherine Rampell, whom I respect and admire. The story describes the enormous costs to the nation of mental illness […]

Apple Store opens in London
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Ribbon cuttings: Hyperbole and the retail beat

It’s a grocery store, not a phenomenon. But in Detroit, which is quietly staging a modest food revolution, the opening of a Whole Foods market is a happening utterly disproportionate to the city’s size. The lines outside the door all day fill with people who say, like Boston-Edison resident Kennikki Jones, “I’ve been waiting for […]

Sentimental judgment. And a contest on consumer confidence.
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Sentimental judgment. And a contest on consumer confidence.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment declined to 82.7 in June from 84.5 the prior month that was the highest since July 2007, a report today showed. (Bloomberg) The consumer sentiment index,* compiled by the University of Michigan (with the generous support of Thomson Reuters amounting to  $1 million-plus a year), is […]

Undercaffeinated reporting: Clearing up coffee market confusion
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Undercaffeinated reporting: Clearing up coffee market confusion

Coffee futures fell to the lowest since September 2009 on increasing supplies from Brazil, the world’s largest producer. (Bloomberg) Roya is making some of the world’s most desired coffee beans scarcer and driving up their prices. (Wall Street Journal)   Coffee prices are down. Some coffee prices are up. A blight threatens Central and South American […]

Warren Buffett at Borsheim Fine Jewelry
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Eenie meenie chili beanie: No news was big news for Buffett

Even with the addition of a hedge fund manager meant to inject additional skepticism into Berkshire Hathaway‘s annual meeting, Warren E. Buffett managed to escape making big news here on Saturday. (New York Times) Before facing questions from a crowd of more than 30,000, billionaire investor Warren Buffett got a rock star’s treatment Saturday when he was mobbed […]

Beware of Bitcoin: Virtual coin, really hard to describe
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Beware of Bitcoin: Virtual coin, really hard to describe

Beware of bitcoin Bitcoin* is all the rage. It’s extraordinarily difficult to write about because no one – including its creators – seems to be able to say exactly what it is. That makes it tough to come up with the nut graf**. This would-be educational video takes a stab at it, but is almost […]

Plagiarism sins: Who you calling 'strident'?
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Plagiarism sins: Who you calling ‘strident’?

Although some strident voices clamor for a zero-tolerance policy on plagiarism — termination at first blush — that is not the norm. (Telling the Truth and Nothing But) The National Summit on Plagiarism and Fabrication, held during the recent annual conference of the American Copy Editors Society, took care of the “fabrication” part quickly, without […]

Facing down the plagiarists: Not too late for ACES 2013
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Facing down the plagiarists: Not too late for ACES 2013

The annual American Copy Editors conference runs April 4-6 in St. Louis. This gathering is the pretty much the only place to go if you are an editor looking to expand your knowledge and sharpen your skills. It’s late, but you can still register. The highlight of the conference this year is the National Summit […]