As the subtitle suggests, this is not a usage guide, though some language reminders punctuate the larger journalistic truths. These range from the time-tested ("The reader doesn't care how hard you worked on that story") to the thoroughly modern ("The people kvetching about the new editing software never mastered the old editing software either"). One of my favorites:
You can't fatten poor stock.
Or, as Anthony Trollope wrote, "One cannot pour out of a jug more than is in it."
In editing, you can't make any text better than its inherent worth. Much routine editing involves taking texts that are defective -- sloppy, unclear, unfocused -- and rendering them merely mediocre.This may sound cynical, but it isn't really. The fact is, newspapers publish lots of stories that not only aren't wonderfully written, but don't even aspire to wonderfulness. It's more important to be clear and accurate, and that standard is not always easy to meet. (Ben Yagoda's latest book, "How to Not Write Bad," sensibly recommends the same standard -- basic, not-wrong competence -- as a goal for student writers.)
No more spoilers: For the rest, check out the links at You Don't Say or proceed directly to Amazon.