Earlier this month Commentary published its 75th anniversary issue. It contains a long dialogue (Editing Commentary – A Conversation) between John Podhoretz the magazine’s current editor and his father Norman a previous editor. The conversation, nine pages of it, is a largely congratulatory depiction of how heavily edited is the copy published. John describes an editorial process so thorough that it seem close to impossible for an obvious error or typo to survive this gauntlet.
The article which follows is by the renowned essayist Joseph Epstein who likewise covers the rigorous editorial process that he and other writers for Commentary endured before their work could be published.
Then, even though Murphy couldn’t possibly work for the Jewish oriented magazine, his law struck. Here’s a paragraph from Epstein’s article. See if you can spot the error. The copy below is exactly as it appeared in both the print and web editions. The Google and Word dictionaries spotted it in a picosecond.
“Along with Partisan Review and Encounter, to which I also subscribed, COMMENTARY became a source of education to me, one I felt I couldn’t do without. When I was in the (peacetime) army, I had my mother send my subscription copies down to Fort Leonardwood, in Missouri, where I hid them under the mattress of my bunk, for in basic training no reading matter was allowed. Had they been discovered, I should doubtless have been assigned extra KP. The risk was well worth it.”
If you haven’t found it go here. Of course, I’m no paragon of copy editing. In fact, I’m awful at it; but I make no claim of expertise as does Commentary. I have to read my screeds 10 times to find even the most obvious error. Often, 10 times is insufficient. Error ubiquitous sucks.