Sunday, March 28, 2010

Best-selling author's work greatly improved by editing

As an independent blogger my prodigious output goes online edited by no one other than me – like this isn't obvious. Now I don't know about you but I have trouble finding errors in my writing: I know what a post is supposed to say and don't always notice that something could have been better written or doesn't quite nail the point I wanted to make. I'm also, well, lazy. And anyway, it's not like I'm deluded by any fantasies of journalistic adequacy – I am after all really nothing more than a hobby blogger who's been hired to add a bit of conservative commentary to a mutli-blogger site.

Then there are journalists that blog, Tim Blair, for example. Tim's writing talents are well suited to the blog medium: no one can compare when it comes to succinctly and humourously skewering an opponent. Love him or loathe him, no one can sensibly deny the man's talent.

At the opposite end of the blogging spectrum is a talent wasteland where a would be tall poppy deludes himself that his almost-good-enough-to-be-high-school-newspaper-editor writing talent will one day bring him fame, fortune and a one way ticket out the Australian journalism backwater.  (Figured out where this is going, have you?)

So, let's take a look at an Antony Loewenstein article as written and compare it to the same piece after editing.

The original 1,300 word piece, written for BBC Persian, starts off:

The face of murdered Iranian woman Neda Agha Soltan by a sniper’s bullet echoed around the world. Murdered in June 2009 during the upheaval after the disputed presidential election that saw a new term for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the vast majority of iconic images seen outside the Islamic Republic were shot by citizens on mobile phones or digital cameras. They were raw, brutal, confused and powerful. Their aim was to document events and let historians and journalists find order in the chaos.

The same piece after an axe-wielding editor removed some 350 words and in the process effectively rewrote it:

The face of murdered Iranian woman Neda Agha Soltan, killed by a bullet in the Iranian capital Tehran, echoed around the world.

Like this, the vast majority of iconic images that documented Iran’s disputed presidential election to the outside world were shot by citizens on mobile phones or digital cameras.

They were raw, brutal, confused and powerful. A society was challenged in a way that rocked the foundations of the state.

And there you go, with a few hours of editing Loewnestein's work is... readable. Perhaps if Loewenstein buys a dictionary (and learns how to use it – the words are arranged alphabetically) and maybe gets an apprenticeship, or some such – hey, now that he's something of celebrity Fairfax should take him back and complete his training – maybe one day he will actually be able to, you know, write, thus liberating himself from the Australian journalism backwater.


Anonymous ar said...

It still needs work. Leaving aside for a moment the cliche, are you saying her face echoed around the world?

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Dan Lewis said...


That's how it appeared on the Beeb's site. They tried their best with what they had...

Although it's merely a BBC blog, no doubt "Best selling author" Loewenstein will add "columnist for the BBC" to his grossly inflated resume.

It's nice to see that Loewenstein is diversifying. Not only is he a shitty writer, frequently wrong about Israel, it seems he can a shitty writer, frequently wrong about other stuff as well...

Jewish people all around the world, howsoever non-religious will tonight be celebrating Passover with their families. Loewenstein will instead be sitting alone, blogging about Israel, hoping that someone will pay him 50c a word before his next Internet bill arrives...

10:23 AM  
Anonymous atomou said...

Reading lowest's tripe is cringeworthy. How it could be published outside his own blog is beyond belief. I think google translator does a better job than that rubbish. Its like a mixed word salad

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

He really illustrates the term "useful idiot".

3:06 PM  
Anonymous boy on a bike said...

Good editors are rarer than good writers.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

"Good editors are rarer than good writers."

I believe Antony Loewenstein is personally responsible for:
6 editors resigning
3 editors having nervous breakdowns
1 editor committing suicide by paper-cut
2 editors being institutionalised

No wonder they are hard to come by...

7:36 AM  

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