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 on Plagiarism and Fabrication, on the morning of April 5. A committee comprising editors, academics, and representatives of various news organization and trade groups (but not, for some reason, me.) The committee has prepared a report that will be released at the summit. As far as I know, it will be the only comprehensive review of the subject ever to be compiled by people who know anything useful about it. The committee is headed by William G. Connolly, a retired New York Times editor who for years has offered at ACES conferences a presentation on “Jimmy’s World,” the 1980 story that Janet Cooke of the Washington Post made up.
The summit is free, but you have to register for it.
Meanwhile, I can recommend some of the other sessions scheduled for the conference:
- Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) for Journalists. Who knows? It might be useful.
- Finance, Banking and Markets: From Jargon into English. Covers terminology that often mystifies financial reporters, as evidenced by the stories they write. This would also be good for general reporters, who might be inclined to parrot jargon they see in the money pages.
- Tiny Acts of Elegance: Editing Like a Writer, with Bill Walsh of the Washington Post. Bill’s sessions are always useful. (Plug: His new book, “Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk,” will be published soon.)
- Afraid of Math? Take a Number. It’s really all arithmetic in the financial pages, anyhow. With Rich Holden of the Dow News Fund.
There are several sessions that appear to be must-avoids, topped by something called “BizSpeak Bursting with Strunk & White.” This isn’t for news people: “If you work in the corporate world — perhaps in a multichannel platform — and your core constituency leverages its resources in matrixing a communications strategy that has too many moving parts, Strunk and White can help you peel the onion and incorporate best practices.” That sentence is a joke, or at least I think it is. But the session description continues: “The Elements of Style” is only about 100 pages long and nearly 100 years old, but it’s full of tips for writers and editors in the digital age who want to keep it short and keep it simple.” If the session is really about neophytes embracing Strunk & White, I’m not laughing. Smart editors know that “The Elements of Style” is a very dangerous book in the wrong hands. (I’ve said this before.)