The Daily(ish) Review

The Daily Edit: NYT, Fox, and USA Today

Three articles over coffee. Let's talk language and wording.

#1

New York Times: The Trump-Kim Summit Was Unprecedented, but the Statement Was Vague

David E. Sanger and Choe Sang-Hun provided a thorough overview of the summit. No suggested edits.

#2

Fox News: GOP pols slam Rosenstein, say staff 'shaking' in fear over 'threats'

I haven't got any edits, but it's an odd article by Adam Shaw. It paints a picture of an out of control Department of Justice, with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein threatening House staffers.

According to the article, various House staffers were left "physically shaking" and afraid for their families after being attacked and threatened by Rosenstein. While reading the article, I pictured Rosenstein with a squad of armed enforcers meeting with the staffers in a Lubyanka-like interrogation room. But as far as I can tell from the article, the threats involved informing the staffers that materials related to House investigations could be subpoenaed. Congress and its staffers know that, they do it all the time when they request records and testimony.

Verdict: No edits to suggest, but I'm not really sure what I've just read, either.

#3

USA Today: Voters will decide if California should be split into three states

Joel Shannon's article is an interesting look at a proposal calling for California to become three states. I've heard the idea mentioned before, but I didn't realize the proposal might actually make it to the ballot.

I have some minor suggestions/thoughts on the wording.

A proposal that would split the state of California into three separate states has become eligible to appear on the state's ballots in November, California's Secretary of State has confirmed. 

- Here Secretary of State is capitalized. Titles can be tricky. I'd capitalize it here, too, because I'd argue it's clearly referring to a specific person / position. I'm not sure why a name wasn't included, though. This issue will come up again later.

- I looked to see what other writers might say about this. I found a page called Gotham Writers where Brandi Reissenweber discussed the issue. Here's what Gotham Writers had to say.

Some style manuals stipulate that prestigious titles—such as President of the United States, Secretary of State, or Senator—should always be capitalized even when they stand alone. Other manuals recommend these titles be treated like any other, and should not be capitalized unless followed by a name. You’ll have to decide what’s right given your audience.

Unfortunately, there are no fancy tricks in remembering these quirky little rules. Look them up as you need to; they’ll eventually stick.
— Gotham Writers at https://www.writingclasses.com

The Golden State would become California, Northern California and Southern California, if the proposal were to pass.

- if + were or if + was. Fun with the subjunctive. This one always throws me. They (the nice vague they villain) make it sound easy, telling us that it has to do with conditionals that are unreal, unlikely, hypothetical, etc. That doesn't always help. I'd consider it very unlikely that this proposal would pass, but am I then making the subjunctive subjective? In this instance, I like were. I'd declare victory and move on.

Cal3provides this information for how the state would be split up:

- The reference to Cal3 seems to come out of nowhere, and it's even more confusing because there isn't a space between Cal3 and provides. Note: Cal3provides is a hyperlink in the original article. I deleted the link because I don't like sending people to sites I'm not familiar with. If you're curious, you can go to the original USA Today article and click on the link there.

If the proposed measure was to be passed, the division of California would be subject to approval by Congress, according to Cal3.

- Here it's was to be passed vs. the earlier were to be passed. Is the author hedging his bets? Is the conditional different here? Am I wimping out by not choosing one or the other? (Yes, yes I am.)

But there's many reasons to be skeptical that voters will choose to split the state.

- I'd go with there are many reasons.

An April poll from Survey USA found that voters were not in favor of splitting the state by a margin of 4 to 1.

- This sentence is fine. I think I might replace not in favor of with against.

Getting an initiative on a November 2016 ballot required about 808,000 signatures. The group behind the effort, largely funded by Draper, claimed to have 1.3 million signatures. But the secretary of state deemed about 40% of them to be illegitimate, and the campaign faltered.

- Here's that title/position issue again. I'd opt for consistency and capitalize it. I still think it's odd wording regardless. Instead of pointing out the secretary of state's role, I might try to go for a broader term representing the state government.

In 1992, Stan Statham, an assemblyman from Northern California, embarked on "a quixotic campaign to split California in three," as Sacramento's News & Review recalled.

- I love the term quixotic. I wonder which Cervantes reader was the first person to use the term. Does anyone in the book use the term or a similar term to describe Quixote's actions?

And that's that. Mostly nit picks today, with one "what the heck was that article about anyway".