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Phillip Blanchard

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

By on Apr 22, 2013

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 […]

March Madness and the overstated employee productivity issue
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March Madness and the overstated employee productivity issue

John L. Robinson, and no doubt others, raised the annual alarm for the people-sit-around-the-office-watching-basketball story, which, just like PNC Wealth Management’s annual Twelve Days of Christmas price list, smart editors have learned to spike on sight. Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the euphemistically self-described “global outplacement firm,” pumps out its March Madness “survey” every spring before […]

Weasel word for the ages
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Weasel word for the ages

  In October, Dell announced advanced products in servers, data storage and computer networking. It faces tough competition in these areas, however, from Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M. and Oracle. (New York Times DealBook) “Without admitting or denying” were the weasel words of 2011.  In a fair fight, “however” would take the singular crown any year.* There’s no […]

Quotation area quotes
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Empty quotes: Fill ‘em or ditch ‘em

 “It’s an exciting time to be an Abbott shareholder,” said Mark Geraci Jr., a financial adviser for Sound Strategy Estate & Retirement Specialists … who works closely with many local Abbott employees, retirees and shareholders. (Chicago Sun-Times) I hate quotations. Tell me what you know. (Ralph Waldo Emerson.)   Quotations are the foundation of news stories, […]

Say No to Q&A
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Q&As are lame? So what’s new?

Q. Is there anything lamer than a Q&A? A. No. “The job of journalism is not stenography. It is getting the full story and the meaning of that story,” Bob Woodward said to an Indiana University audience in 2007. Woodward was not necessarily talking about the question-and-answer format in his talk, but I was when I […]

Big Bird
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Forget the facts. It’s a joke.

A day after the Twitterverse exploded in reaction to Mitt Romney’s vow to fire Big Bird by cutting federal funding to PBS, “Sesame Street” declined to enter the political fray …. (USA Today) Public broadcasting supporters say the amount of federal funding that PBS receives – $444 million in fiscal 2012—would not make a dent […]

New York magazine Libor headline
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Libor: Under the radar, ever so slightly

Whether any class of people was systematically damaged by this seems unlikely to me since the manipulation went in both directions at various times, but by the same token huge numbers of people and institutions around the world will have lost money due to this. (Matthew Yglesis in Slate) “It could make Bernie Madoff look like a […]

Bad headline
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Editors’ fatigue: Know when to say no

Apparently there is no hope. Bad headlines have always been a problem. Everyone who has been a slot editor knows that some copy editors specialize in writing horribly wrongheaded headlines, and are proud of it. Luckily, the slot editors of the world are there to fix them. Wait. The slot editors are disappearing. We’re in […]