Poor: The punishment was unjust.
Improved: The U.S. Court of Military Appeals
ruled that the punishment imposed by the
court-martial was unjust.
Sometimes, a writer makes contradictory remarks
in a story without realizing it. When contradictions
occur, the copy editor should delete them or rearrange
the facts more logically. Note the following four
examples of typical contradictions:
R o b i n s o n s k e e n s e n s e of
responsibility, devotion to duty and
h a r d w o r k , a c c o r d i n g t o h is
commanding officer, finally paid off
May 16 when he was advanced to
Illustrator-Draftsman Third Class.
The 16-year veteran is assigned to
the aircraft carrier...
If Robinson is such a responsible and devoted
worker, why did it take him 16 years to make DM3? The
reader will assume that Robinson is not too bright or that
the Navy does not reward good men and women.
A combat veteran of World War II,
the Korean conflict and the Vietnam
War, Capt. Garlin wears the American
Defense Medal, the World War II
Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation
Service Medal, the National Defense
Service Medal and the National
The captain may be a veteran of three wars, but his
medals indicate he has seen no combat.
As a JO, you should have news sense a quality
Chief Clayborne began striking for
Personnelman aboard the destroyer
USS Mitchel in 1945.
The Personnelman rating was established in 1948,
so Chief Clayborne could not have been a PN striker in
1945. He must have started out in another rating.
Despite his 3-15 record and 7.89
earned run average, Bob Baker is
considered to be a good pitcher.
Bakers pitching record and ERA speak for
themselves. Classifying him as a good pitcher is both
opinionated and contradictory. The writer would have
to do a lot of explaining to justify this comment.
that tells you which facts to collect and use and which
facts to ignore. But if you do not have this ability or if
you lose it momentarily, the copy editor must stop
stories that are incomplete or inadequate and return
them to you for amplification. This will save you the
trouble of answering phone calls from news media
representatives who want more detailed information.
Consider the following story, for example:
A Navy ground crewman was
killed in an accident at U.S. Naval Air
Station Bennington, the Navy
The man has been identified as
George Pine of Chicago, Ill. He was
directing a plane from the flight line
onto a taxiway when the accident
occurred. Bystanders reported that
Pine walked into the blades of the
spinning propeller. The pilot of the
plane was attached to a squadron
operating from the aircraft carrier USS
This story is compact and clearly written, but it will
not satisfy the demands of the news media. Among other
things, they will want to know the following:
When did the accident occur? The Navy
announced the story today, but nowhere does it
say when the accident actually happened.
Is there more detailed information on the victim?
Readers will want to know his middle initial, age,
rate, hometown address and data on his next of
How did the accident happen? The facts here are
too generalized and vague.