Thursday, March 31, 2016


It is, or isn't
On the ballot


THE HEADLINE IN THE BOISTON HERALD READS Poll: 62 percent of Mass. firms oppose marijuana legalization ballot measure.

The article's first (leed) paragraph reads:

Employers are sounding the alarm about a proposed November state ballot question that calls for legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, coming out heavily against it in a newly released survey.

That READS as if Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) members are against putting the question on the November ballot.

But the way the article is written leaves that in doubt.

The article goes on that The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s referendum will be on the Nov. 1 statewide ballot..

"Will be on the Nov. 1 ballot."

So, IS the question already on the ballot as AIM seems to believe, or is it PROPOSED for the ballot as the leed paragraph suggests?

Aside from the fact that the writer, Donna Goodison, can't seem to decide if the question is, or is not, on the ballot, she also fails to follow basic rules of abbreviation. Maybe the Boston Herald tossed out all the AP Stylebooks - the 2015 version is a bit pricy: $14.29 for a hard copy and $11.99 for Kindle on Amazon. Surely the Herald can afford ONE copy and pass it around or keep it at the copy editor's desk. (The AP's Guide for News Writing is only $12.05 on Amazon.) I never worked at a newspaper - large or small - that lacked at lest one copy of the AP guidebook.

The "basic rule rules of abbreviation" include spelling out the word(s) to be abbreviated and follow this, in parentheses, with the abbreviation, e.g., Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM)

If I failed to find Associated Industries of Massachusetts near the top of her story, I might have thought "AIM" stood for any one of the 165 definitions listed at the Acronyms & Abbreviations web site.. My first thought was American Indian Movement, but I'm sure others would instantly think of AOL Instant Message.

I know I'm a curmudgeon who dates back at least to Gutenberg and movable type, but I still remember my first lessons on how to be a reporter from a great rewrite man: "Spell the person's name correctly, keep the leed to 10 words or less, and cite your sources." Aside from restricting editorial opinions to the editorial page, everything else is commentary.

With writer's such as Ms. Goodison, it is no wonder the good voters of Massachusetts are confused.

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