LETTER: Observations about editingTo the Telegram: Almost anyone who writes a letter of opinion to any periodical, including the Superior Telegram or Duluth News Tribune may occasionally feel his or her words are unfairly edited.
To the Telegram:
Almost anyone who writes a letter of opinion to any periodical, including the Superior Telegram or Duluth News Tribune may occasionally feel his or her words are unfairly edited.
This is what I feel happened to a letter of mine titled “GOP conveniently misrepresents Obamacare costs” published in the Aug. 1 issue of the Superior Telegram.
Although both local papers have frequently edited many of my letters, the changes they make are usually correct and actually improve those letters. I have not hesitated to tell them so. But, I feel some recent changes made to the letter in question by the Telegram absolutely obscured my meaning. Most readers will not remember this particular letter, but I am writing because of the principle involved and I believe what happened was a definite mistake.
As I originally intended it, a sentence which appeared in the second paragraph in the Aug. 1 Telegram, was supposed to read: “One of the worst lies circulated by Republican’s is that the March 13th 2012 estimate for the cost of health care reforms, have doubled over the original 2010 estimate.”
Here is how the Telegram rephrased that sentence: “One of the worst lies circulated by Republicans is the March 13 estimate for the cost of health care reforms, which doubled over the original 2010 estimate.”
Although the Telegram claims my complaint is based only on semantics, I think anyone can clearly see my original version made it perfectly clear that Republicans had lied about and fabricated the claim the costs of health care reforms had doubled. On the other hand, the sentence printed by the Telegram leaves the definite impression that those cost had actually doubled. It also leaves open the possibility that the “lies” I spoke of involve some other matter, which may be elaborated upon later.
In fact, my original intended meaning was completely misstated and was completely opposite of what the paper implied.
My feeling is that whoever proofread my letter overlooked this inaccurate misstatement, and when I decided to complain, and did not want to admit to that mistake.
Yes, I did tell the editor of the Telegram that overall, they had listed my points accurately and I stated my belief that most readers will get the basic meanings of my points. I said this because later on in the letter I made clear that Republicans deliberately left out the cuts and revenues in the bill and were completely remiss for doing so. I also didn’t want to sound overly accusatory, because I had expected a simple correction could be published and that I should remain civil about the issue.
I believe that when one’s intended meaning is obviously misrepresented — enough to convey a completely opposite meaning — then that misrepresentation is what creates confusion, and is not merely a matter of semantics.
Peter W. Johnson,