The right way?
Sunday, March 26, 2006 1:39:42 AM
I'm trying to write some articles. It takes time, which is why I am still doing it late on Saturday night. They're fun, but hard work. And then I hand them in and they get edited. On rare occasions something I write gets published where other people read it. Most recently an article on the mobile web was published by .Net, an english magazine that the general public can actually read.
I got a copy from a friend who had seen it. Naturally, it had been edited a little by the magazine. It may have contained a spelling error, or some tortured sentece they wanted to simplify. Mostly they did a good job, actually improving the way things were said. But a couple of the changes rankled a bit with me. One of them was a question of style - I had written about a scruffy guy looking for a cheap bed on his mobile, which they left alone, and then
the girl with the heavy make-up and the cute little phone could actually be cursing the Web site that won't let her change her river cruise ticket for a Trabant hire-car in Budapest.
It came through the editing process as a girl looking at celebrity gossip in some magazine. It might be true that English readers weren't going to know what a Trabant is, or that the example seemed crazy. But the net effect was to drive a stereotype that I actively tried to avoid. My writing is not free of stereotypes, But I try to avoid some of them for one reason or another.
The other was more serious, and the sense of the edited version was almost directly opposite to what I had written, and something I was very unhappy to see. I immediately asked for a correction, and was told that they would indeed provide one in issue 150, for which I am grateful.
But they could have shown me the text before publishing it. As I said when I submitted the article, I would have liked to review any changes - precisely for this reason. Instead, some number of people will see my name (and picture) next to something that I regard as a stupid thing for anyone to say, and of those people I suspect a good number won't actualy read the correction. If I didn't know that there is quite a lot of confusing or even sloppy journalism around, and people are used to it happening, I would be more upset. But there is not a lot I can do about it.
In theory I can take legal action, pointing out that associating some statement with me is detrimental to my reputation. Since they published text that made it seem like I think Internet Explorer is a good browser, it is probably an easy enough case to make. But it probably isn't that important, and a published correction given rapidly and in good grace is probably better than arguing about it. And arguing about things in court that don't have some clear material importance is only good for lawyers.
So, back to writing some more pieces. One is on the mobile web, again. But they ask for camera-ready copy, in other words presumably all errors are my fault, and they aren't planning to sub-edit it. The other one will probably get sub-edited - I hope that if they make changes I get to see them this time.