This is the kind of thing that makes my geeky little heart go pitty-pat: The New York Times has begun publishing excerpts from a weekly newsroom critique. After Deadline, is written by deputy news editor Philip Corbett. The intent is “not to chastise, but to point out recurring problems and suggest solutions,” Corbett writes.
The first post tackles the incorrect usage of “like” as a conjunction, the overuse of “A Tale Of” constructions in headlines, and a better usage for “most well-known.”
You know, I can almost see your eyes rolling from here. But I don’t care about your petty mockery; those of us who care about using words well are always looking to pick up pointers from the pros. As a freelance editor and writer, the value of reading After Deadline isn’t just in the specific usage notes. There’s also the less-obvious reinforcement that yes, how we use words matter, that there are ways to make ourselves better understood, and that they are worth pursuing.
In a world filled with daily examples of the degradation of language thanks to near-senseless abbreviations born of text and instant messages, and the refusal by many people to use proper capitalization and punctuation because it’s not cool or it takes too long, a little positive reinforcement goes a long way. Even for the Grammar Diva.