Copyeditors Killed in Style Conflict

Reader Jennifer Schmidt of the Detroit area tipped me off to this important article in today's Onion, "4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence."

Because of the comments readers post here, I know passions run strong on topics of grammar, usage, and punctuation, but this level of violence shocks me.

How do you feel about it?

Thank you, Jennifer, for alerting us to this situation.

P.S. It's satire.

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

8 comments on “Copyeditors Killed in Style Conflict”

  • I’m actually not at all surprised. I’ve seen writers come to blows over periods in a bulleted list and commas before an “and.” It was bound to escalate at some point.

  • When the Onion gets it right, they get it very right. I especially enjoyed the reaction of the innocent passer-by to the discussion of the serial comma. How many of us have made our non-grammar nerd friends feel similarly?

    MLA, yo!

  • If ever you want a lot of traffic (including drive-by shootings), write a post on grammar and/or typos. 😉

  • Very funny! I’m glad you added “It’s satire” because I once shared an Onion story about a 10-year-old being sentenced to time in the corner, and one person I sent it to just didn’t get it. The Onion is so funny because their premises are always based on truth!

  • Colleen, Jennifer, Kathy, and Val–I am glad you dropped by.

    Colleen, you are right about the blows. I occasionally delete blistering comments by people who are certain their way is the only way.

    Jennifer, you may be in the minority showing your colors for the “MLA Stylebook.” I have it but don’t typically consult it. In any case, thanks for sharing the original link!

    Kathy, I’m with you on “drive-by.”

    Val, I had to add the note about satire. People who visit this blog from around the globe would believe we had taken insane violence to a new, literary level.

    Thanks, everyone.


  • I posted a link to the “story” on my Facebook page, and only my acute writer friends even realized it wasn’t a true story of tragedy. That says something about our culture, I think!
    On another note, I thought whatever follows “based on” had to be what’s modified by that phrase. So wouldn’t “based on x, I did y” imply that you (the speaker) were based on x? Sorry…it’s an illness…

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