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By Lisa Gillespie
May 1, 2010

From what I understand of the days of the former newspaper, newspapers and ads had great power. They were the ones to put out information to the masses. There were scores of copy editors going over every word written to make sure there were no typos, no unneeded capitalization, no grammar mistakes. And then, the Internet came. I graduated from college in the winter of 2008, with no idea that I would have to become my own editor when writing blogs. I wondered what would happen to copy editors who were laid off from their jobs at dailies. Would spelling, grammar and sentence structure go to the way-side?

I finally got my answer after reading a recent article in the NYTimes on people who go through Twitter posts, editing for content and grammar. There was some back and forth in the article over whether this is a valid occupation. Now, anyone can get out information without any prior editing. It’s dangerous, as I first learned with my first blog after misspelling several words and getting a phone call from my editor.

Language matters. It provides the backbone for communication and serves as a common thread for those who might have nothing else in common. Imagine if there were several ways of spelling one word with the same meaning. Writing e-mails, reading books and newspapers would become a maze of wondering what slang the author is using.

Enter these “Tweet Police.” “GrammarCop, one of several people who seem to exist on Twitter solely to copy-edit others, recently received a beat down from the actress Kirstie Alley, to whom he had recommended the use of a plural verb form instead of a singular. ‘Are you high?’ Ms. Alley wrote back. “You really just linger around waiting for people to use incorrect grammar? you needs a life.‘” The funny thing about Alley’s response is that ever since newspapers came around, there have been copy editors, those who make a living editing others. I’m glad these Tweet Police have surfaced to take the place of those who used to work at copy desks. We need to be mindful of the message we put out when words are misspelled, verb agreements do not match up, and commas are missing.

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