"What we have here is a medium in which there is no publisher, no editor, no anything. It's just you and a little machine and you can make history. I find that scary. Nobody should get into print or on the air without some kind of editor. I have an institutional belief that nobody can be above having a good editor."
From Romenesko (via A Capital Idea)
I was actually thinking about this recently, noticing how many web sites and blogs (this one included) have, among other things, horribly written headlines. Headline writing, I really think, is an artform, a skill that not everyone possesses. Somewhere in between are the people that -- like me -- have difficulty crafting a good a headline, but can spot a bad from a mile away. Then there are the people who think that puns are the highest form of humour, and litter their headlines with them.
I won't take that topic any further -- any regular reader of my column should know what I think about puns.
The point is this: bad headlines are the least of your worries if you're writing without an editor handy.
The average blogger probably doesn't know the first thing about plagarism. The average blogger probably doesn't know the first think about libel. And, while the average blogger is probably safe from this sort of thing most of the time, we all get our panties in a bunch now and then, and get off on a rant that we might regret after a few days. Unfortunately, regret is rarely enough once the damage is done.
And it's probably fair to bet that if a blogger doesn't have an editor on staff, he doesn't have a lawyer on staff either.
It's surprising that there haven't been more lawsuits -- or, if there have been a flood of lawsuits already, it's surprising that they haven't been more wildly publicized. Is it that Internet writers have, so far, just gotten lucky? Is it that most libelous weblogs aren't actually read by enough people for the lebelled party to ever find out about it? Did lawyers around the world suddenly decide that there was just far too much litigation already tying up the courts?
Either way, I agree with Mr. Schorr's comment, that there is no one that can't be helped by a good editor.