Case Study: Vanity Fair’s editing of Palin speech

First off, Vanity Fair has clearly aligned itself with a political ideology by engaging in bashing Sarah Palin.

But then those hacks never did practice under the guise of objectivity anyway.

While the editors responsible for the markups to Palin’s speech certainly have grammar and usage mastered, they failed to recognize three things.

First, that the version of the speech they wielded the multicolored pens at was a transcript provided by a news service.

Like taking pictures at a sports game, capturing the action is the key.

It’s a problem inherent with reporting speeches. There’s no going back to record what was said, but revisions on place spellings (like Point Thompson being Point Thomson) can be done later. So capture the action and revise and edit later.

When the editors “counted off” for errors, they were kind of missing the point.

Second, based on the Youtube footage of this speech, there wasn’t a teleprompter. Record almost anybody, suave politician and President Barack Obama included, away from this machine, and he or she will stumble at some point.

So, if Palin included a few conversational redundancies like “we all,” I forgive her. Too bad the editors didn’t.

While we’re on the subject, I wonder where Vanity Fair’s “edited version” of the State of the Union Address is? Oh wait…

Third, to a mainstream media insider, these grammatical irregularities included in Palin’s speech provide evidence of incompetence.

But, since Palin ran her campaign on being a different kind of politician and not doing business as usual, sounding less scripted and more on-the-spot conversational in a speech to her core constituency probably boosted her popularity.

Normal people can connect and relate to the type of rhetoric used in her speech, which is probably good since she alienated a group of people who would’ve otherwise voted for her in future elections, like for president in 2012, by resigning midway through her term.

However, all of this seemed lost on the editors who were a part of this exercise.

They didn’t make the speech better, they just changed it. But, this does underscore the importance of copy editors. Reporters are likely to return to the newsroom with notes from an event like this and write a similarly flawed story.

It’s editors job to catch and fix these errors. So, I think it is irresponsible to say editors aren’t useful.

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One response to “Case Study: Vanity Fair’s editing of Palin speech

  1. Aside from fact errors, some of your editing compadres also felt VF removed the guv’s voice from its version.

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