Write Once, Edit Twice

Every editor has experience with something with a double meaning slipping past them. The trick is to catch it before it embarrasses you.

I had my first experience with this on my college newspaper. On the staff was a sweet young thing who regularly blushed at the off-color comments of some of our colleagues. She was assigned a story about a visiting Chinese physicist.

I don’t remember the story but the hed was a gem: “Wang comes on campus.”

The (male) editor-in-chief made it my job to explain why this was not usable. “Why me?” I muttered. “Because you’re a girl,” he said.

I think he just didn’t want to do it himself. Girl or not, the discussion did not go very well, judging from the fact that she gasped in horror, ran from the room and never came back.

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