Editing · Journalism


I came across this story today in The Atlantic about the net worth of all of the U.S. presidents.

I was interested in the story, so I began to read — specifically the infographic that explained how each president came into money. I read the whole thing, but it was really hard. There were sooo many style mistakes it wasn’t even funny.

The articles (“a”, “and” and “the”) were left out in numerous blurbs. Part of me thinks this was to cut words, but important words aren’t where you start. You start with length.

I don’t know if The Atlantic follows AP style. Even if they don’t, there needs to be continuity within the story (I learned about the Seven C’s of Copyediting in class today, and they need to be followed by EVERYONE in the business). For example, in the blurb about LBJ, Texas was referred to as “Texas” and “TX”. Pick one or the other people! And the serial comma wasn’t used consistently either. As a future editor, that pisses me off.

I loved how the story looked online, but because of those editing mistakes, I’m no longer impressed. Just because a story runs online doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get edited. The same time and effort is required in both print copy and online copy.

I e-mailed The Atlantic’s editor to let them know about the inconsistencies and mistakes. Hopefully the story gets corrected.

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