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Taking issue



I thought it odd to see this item in the daily paper: "Because the stock markets were closed Tuesday for New Year's Day, there is no business section in today's edition." Odd not because the markets were closed — they do that from time to time — but because a newspaper referred to "today's edition." Laymen may use edition and issue interchangeably, but as Garner's Modern American Usage says, "In the newspaper business, the two terms are distinguished. At The New York Times, '[an] issue means all the copies printed on a given day. There may be several editions of one issue.' " The newspaper I used to work for published three editions every day. The aptly named first edition had the earliest deadline and was distributed to the far corners of the state. The deadline for the second edition was a couple of hours later. That edition went to areas closer to Little Rock. Finally, there was the city edition, containing the latest news. If a Fort Smith legislator got caught in a late-night altercation at a Little Rock strip club — a not uncommon occurrence — the report probably would make only the city edition, which was a break for the lawmaker since Fort Smith was first-edition territory. All three editions of the paper constituted that day's issue.

Only newspaper people can fully appreciate this headline from The Onion, a satirical on-line newspaper: "4 copy editors killed in ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual gang violence."

Both the Associated Press Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style, published by the University of Chicago Press, advise on matters of grammar and usage. Some copy editors prefer one, some the other. These preferences can be strongly held.

Bill Lewis writes of a recent trip to the hospital:

"While there, I noticed in two places — the ER waiting room fountain and a room devoted to waiting families just off the ER — that the facilities were 'gifted' by such and such individual or organization. For some reason, it sounded pompous and pretentious and it annoyed the hell out of me. I came home and looked in vain for some authority to substitute 'gifted' for 'given' or 'donated.' There is none in any definition I found under 'gift,' although there is an appropriate usage in referring to people possessed of unusual talents or intelligence."

Hospital, heal thyself.

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