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Monday, July 02, 2007

The things that really count

PLEASE NOTE: This story includes a few community names. As usual, I'm using hyphens to thwart the search engines.

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: The little things.

As usual, Name of Paper Withheld is doing a realy bang-up-job att editing. Off course, it realy doesn't matter as-long as you get thestory.

My analysis is in bold text.

Blondin's coming together in Yk, Ndi-lo
Two day family reunion will bring together old and new family members

The point of a headline is to grab the reader's attention and to give some clues about what will be in the story. Consider this one a success, Name of Paper Withheld! Apostrophes are just decoration! Hyphens are boring -- who needs them? Not you!

This headline grabbed my attention right away and really did give some clues about what would be in the story: grammatical error after grammatical error. This is especially important in a story like this one, which will probably be cut out and put on refrigerators and in scrapbooks. My hat is off once again.

The extended Blondin family and friends are being encouraged to make a trip to Name of Town Withheld and Ndi-lo for July 13 and 14. Ted Blondin, son of George Blondin a Dogrib elder, storyteller and writer, is arranging the family reunion for his father who is 85-years-old.

Did the Blondin family get extended somehow? I'm picturing a bunch of ten-foot elders mincing around like characters from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". I suppose this is part of a newspaper's job: to let me know about important local events.

The family is encouraged to come here ON July 13 and 14. Not "for". They're coming FOR a celebration, not for a date on the calendar. The second sentence is missing a couple of commas, but more than makes up for it with some added hyphens. You see, when you're a professional journalist, it's really important to get the right number of punctuation marks into your story. It's not so important to use those marks in the right places.

“We wanted to do something this summer,” Ted said of the reunion. The event isn’t being held for an anniversary, but mainly because George is one of the eldest members of the Blondin family.

“My father is 85-years-old. He’s the oldest family member that is still alive.”

There you go again with the hyphens! It's like you think they belong there or something! I imagine this was a tough call for the copy editor. He probably stared at a copy of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and bit his lip before triumphantly adding those hyphens. Great investigative work! And wait a second -- the party's not for an anniversary, but it's to celebrate the oldest family member's birthday. Hmmm.

Friday will see a social gathering at the Royal Canadian Legion in Name of Town Withheld which will feature an open mic for people to share stories, Ted said. Saturday will be a large barbecue at the property of George’s sister Muriel Betsina in Ndi-lo.

Again, commas are totally not needed. They just slow the reader down. Good call. But isn't it a HUGE story that this family is able to turn days of the week into barbecues? That would definitely be a first.

“We’re starting to fill up the freezers with caribou meat,” Ted said. He said they’ve already received some interest from family members from outside of town, but he doesn’t know how many yet will attend. “For them to actually agree to come together like this it’s a pretty big deal,” he said. Some family members would be flying in from De-line, which costs approximately $1000 for the flight.

“The number (of people coming) just seems to grow.”

No. Ted doesn't know how many will attend YET. And the flight costs $1000.

George resides in Beh-choko (R-ae-Ed-zo). His younger sister Betsina resides in Ndi-lo where the second day of the reunion will be held. Originally she and George were from the shores of De-line.

You don't usually see the word "reside" in newspapers, but Name of Paper Withheld is not your average news-gathering organization. For example, commas are still beneath them.

“The Blondin’s moved to Name of Town Withheld in the ‘50’s. Especially George and his wife and his kids,” she recalls. She said George moved to Name of Town Withheld in order to pull his children out of residential school. She was in a residential school from the age of eight to 16 until her parents moved to Name of Town Withheld as well. “I have so many nieces, nephews, fourth generation cousins that I’ve never met. I hope they come,” Betsina said.

You never mess with a quote. That's one of the big-R Rules of Journalism. However, people don't use punctuation marks when they speak, so even if the reporter happens to be interviewing someone who thinks apostrophes are just decoration, the reporter is under no obligation to include those apostrophes in his or her copy. Or the headline. The same rule applies to hyphens. And I'm getting tired of expressing my gratitude for those dropped commas that were just slowing us all down.

Ted said that his father will be sharing stories with his family, and other family members are encouraged to share their own stories with one another. The open mic will also be available for anyone that wishes to speak on Saturday.

“I’m looking forward to the excitement of the reunion,” Betsina said.

Here's a good lesson for people who work at community newspapers: It's not nice to call people "that". Anyone WHO wants to speak will be able to speak.

Wasn't this the paper THAT went on and on about the importance of literacy a few months ago? I can't remember...