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American Journalism Review
Letters  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   April 1994


Losing It in Print
As a young journalist, I often dreamed that my first mention in a national journalism review would be a glamorous one. Perhaps a description of some faraway war that I covered, a huge scoop I revealed or a prestigious prize that came my way. Alas, it was not to be.
In your January/February issue, my first mention was a bit more humbling. It came in one short paragraph on page 31 ("Off the Record") and did not even spell out my name. For the sake of historical accuracy, I will 'fess up: I was the reporter who lost his lunch while covering the underwater press conference with a Los Angeles mayoral candidate. Glamorous it was not.

Marc Lacey
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles, California

Behind on His Reading
Yesterday I got around to reading your issue of March 1993 and was flabbergasted to learn that Molly Ivins was fired from the New York Times years ago for calling a community chicken-killing gala a "gang-pluck."
Aarrgh! Here we have incontrovertible proof that some five-star editors suffer from spells of imbecility. In this case the Times and its readers were losers, big time.
I keep wondering if any of the people who handled Molly's copy were fired.

Morton C. Paulson
Silver Spring, Maryland

Nafta Style
Trevor Nelson is just plain wrong in suggesting that newspapers and magazines have "an eye to influencing public policy" when they spell Nafta with only the initial letter capitalized (Free Press, January/February). It is simply a matter of style.
The New York Times and a number of other publications have a stylistic rule that an acronym of five or more letters should be written with an initial cap and the rest of the word in lowercase. Acronyms of four letters or fewer should remain in all caps.
This explains why Nafta's cousin, GATT, is not spelled Gatt. It also clears up all the other questions Nelson poses for conspiracy theorists to ponder.
Rather than to forward a hidden agenda, the rule of style for acronyms was devised in the interest of graceful appearance and it existed long before the North American Free Trade Agreement was even proposed.

Gerard Harrington
Managing Editor
Trends Journal
Rhinebeck, New Jersey



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