Babel Backward has an editor?

It came as a surprise when reading all the self-congratulatory stories in the Babel Backward (our name for the Toronto Star’s local grocery-flyer wrap, Barrie Advance). We found out that the credit for exposing the Prime Minister’s Office to the ridicule it deserved is being claimed by the publication’s editor in chief. This is the first time we discovered that it had anyone to edit anything. Earlier this week we were considering sending the publication a strong letter-to-the-editor about the quality of its editing, or lack of it.

It was regarding a business story headlined “Cogeco up and running in Barrie.” Can you imagine a story that literally says: “the Cogeco Data Services centre measures 60,000 feet…” Wow, that is more than 18,000 metres! Is it up or sideways? Just think of the difference an editor could make by adding one word. It would have been much clearer if the reader saw that it was 60,000 square feet. What would have made even more sense was to tell the reader that it is about the area of a medium-sized supermarket or of a football field..

But that is just a minor quibble in the story. There are another five egregious writing errors in only 31 centimetres of copy. Cogeco Data Services and its public relations firm must be wondering who invited that reporter. There is absolutely no excuse for writing about something you do not understand. A good writer is not just a word smith but a good researcher. If you do not know, you ask.

To include that the building meets the LEED Gold standard without explaining LEED, is insulting to your readers. LEED, by the way, is an environmental standard that includes such things as efficient use of exterior light and low volume flush toilets. It is a standard promoted by the United States Green Building Council.

And there is a quote from Cogeco Data Services’ president that says “The facility, by the time it’s filled in five years, will be over $85 million.” Is that aggregate cost, annual revenues, or some measure of value? Surely the president said something more?

But that is not as bad as making Babel’s mayor sound like he had trouble graduating from Grade 8. With a masters degree from the London School of Economics, the mayor is hardly about to say: “This data centre will make us more competitive because it will allow you (sic) to offer companies state-of-the-art technology that isn’t available anywhere.”  We have no idea just what is meant by that statement.

But we Babelites do appreciate the grocery flyers that come with the publication.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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