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May 22, 2014
Too Many Words. Too Few Copyeditors.
 
According to Will Rogers, an expert is "a man fifty miles from home with a briefcase." Nowadays, it’s everyone with a computer.

If everyone’s an expert, why hire anyone? There’s the rub: Our severely crippled economy begs everyone to be an expert. Or at least pose as one. Sure, we all want respect for our opinions and judgment (read: reimbursement), but how many experts are really out there? If you check the blogosphere, a lot. Not only do many of these self-proclaimed Social Media mavens blow their horns egregiously, they flourish them with typos. 

Considering the last grammar class I had was eons ago and lasted 15 minutes (the teacher admittedly hated syntax), I’m far from a language snob. This is precisely why I don’t write about grammar or profess my expertise. Even if you’re not blogging about linguistics, you hardly appear to be an expert if the first thing someone lands on at your page is a big, honking typo.  

Then there are the authorities who wax exhaustively about Simple Steps to Success yet somehow ignore their own advice, forcing scroll bars on automatic pilot just to navigate the jungle of text.

Worse, the parvenu whose picture clearly belies their experience, proving they aren’t expert in anything yet (unless they exited the womb brandishing Web analytics).

I stumbled on a new media expert who was a three-time offender.

1. Too young to have done everything implied and, judging by her provocative photo, said expertise may have been illicit.

2. Abused buzzwords like a corporate drone.

3. Admitted to typos, but begged forgiveness, citing English as a second language. More like zero language.

Tip: If you’re going to post your site under the American flag icon, hire a U.S. copyeditor.

Beware of ambiguous descriptions, too. This same expert listed herself as co-owner of another company (more like two people in a bedroom with two PCs). The “About Us” claimed they created “Leading Social Media Platforms” and “If you're looking for an experienced Advertising/Marketing Company with a well stacked team of Social Media experts, you've found the best.”
 
Nothing like unmitigated hype and an AWOL hyphen. Yes, a “well-stacked” team, which makes one wonder what social services they’re truly peddling.

A copyeditor would’ve come in handy when the co-owner continued on to say: “...after tweeting businesses he experienced that most of the consumers he was reaching was his own customers…” They did, however, get the possessive form of “its” right. I wish I had $1.00 (inflation) for every its and it’s that have been abused.

Then there’s content. Once king, copy/content has rapidly disintegrated into the village idiot. Reality TV and Farcebook aside, I blame the teachers who give poor writers passing grades.

As Editors of The New Atlantis said, “…where everyone can try their hand at journalism and private diaries are published for the world to see…every aspect of life can be put under the spotlight, often in ways that are deforming, perverse, and downright stupid.” That was back in 2005.

Poorly penned sites and inane blogs are bad enough. What about self-published novels and memoirs? There’s an abundance of painful prose and bad grammar even talented editors can’t salvage. Just because you learned to string several words together doesn’t mean you should.

Then the same “authors” are selling (yes, selling!) their collections of insipid iPhone texts on Amazon, touting themselves as published writers. Of course, if it’s non-fiction, they’re “experts” on the subject.

Genuine author Fran Lebowitz (yes, published IN PRINT by an actual, respected Book Publisher) said it best: “Your life story would not make a good book. Don't even try.”  

Taking liberties, let’s revise: Your every misspelled thought would not make a good blog. But writing about nothing every day does make you an expert at it. 

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Mary Alias is a writer who hasn’t won any awards nor worked at any hot NY agencies. Consequently, you probably shouldn’t read what she has to say. She’s just a hard-working creative who doesn’t want to get ahead if it means sticking a stiletto-ed heel (actually, she prefers flats) into a fellow forehead. Mary strives to collaborate, create, write. And get paid for it — because, next to writing, she needs to eat

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