Editor's Blog

'House' style keeps us consistent

05:00am 24 Mar 2014

A letter from a regular writer this week implored me to stop my subediting team messing about with her text - specifically to leave capital letters on the proper nouns.

She was also riled that her grammar was regularly tampered with.

But her letters have to follow some of our rules. We have this beast called "house style", which is the guide to the way we do things, and the words we prefer. For example, we use an "s" rather than a "z" when there is an option; we use plural pronouns for collective entities (such as companies); and we used capitals only when necessary.

Ultimately someone in Fairfax has to make the decision so we are consistent - not just in the group, but in the same paper, so sport is the same as business, is the same as general news.

A style change is coming that might cause a few comments, but is again based on the need for consistency. In sport, arts, business, international news and some opinion pieces, we don't use honorifics (Mrs, Mr, Ms, Dr, Sir). But we do in news.

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Emma heads off to motherhood

05:00am 14 Mar 2014

We've been watching one of the Express editorial crew expand alarmingly during the past few months.

Photographer Emma Allen, who is a petite young woman, has grown as her "condition" developed. She is with child.

She did well to carry some of the big lenses at the best of times, but it has become a struggle of late. Seeing her climb the stairs during the past few weeks, lumbered with her gear, was like watching a climber finally reach the summit.

She has done it valiantly.

She joined us from Wellington two years ago and has taken many superb pictures of you out there. We've enjoyed using them in the paper and on the website, and various judges have also recognised their excellence. She's won a couple of national and international awards and regularly featured in monthly competitions among Fairfax group photographers.

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Happy family or easy target?

05:00am 10 Mar 2014

We've all seen those happy stickers on the back window of vehicles introducing the owner-family to the rest of the world.

Some of them say "Meet the family" or something along those lines.

It's quite interesting to see the combination of people attached to the vehicle - mum, dad and the two kids; sometimes more kids; sometimes an animal or two thrown in; a grandparent; a older person and a pet; a solo parent and a couple of kids.

We live in a world with a huge mix of domestic arrangements and the car stickers cover them all. You can buy them from shops, online and as school or club fundraisers.

In some ways it's a bit like those "baby on board" stickers that suggest we might take more care with that car because there's a precious bundle in the back seat. Or maybe they want us to cut the driver a bit of slack in case they are suddenly distracted by the baby.

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Wish I still had that scrapbook

05:00am 07 Mar 2014

Our story today on the arrival of Bluff oysters has made me all nostalgic.

My first day as a journalist coincided with the start of the oyster season on March 1, and the first sacks landing in town.

That was in 1982, long before the oyster season was closed because of the bonamia disease that virtually wiped out the beds in Foveaux Strait. It took years for them to start recovering.

Makes me think of the scallop industry here at the moment.

I still remember interviewing the blokes at the pie cart depot as they shelled the oysters and battered them ready for the night's trade. They even let us taste a couple.

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The best smile in the morning

05:00am 03 Mar 2014

Some of the most important people in any organisation are the ones on the front counter.

That smiling face at reception when you arrive says "I'm here to help make the day go a little better for you." Straight away it gives you a good impression of the whole business. Even if you're there to complain. In fact that smiling personality usually takes the wind out of your grouch.

We won't talk about the opposite of a smiling face, but most of us have struck one at some stage.

We've got some good people on reception at the Marlborough Express, led by long-timer Lorri Taylor.

Her bight-and-breeziness improves the day of anyone who walks through our door. Even if she hasn't met them before - which is not often - she makes them feel like they are the most important person to walk in that day. She gives them her full attention and sorts out what they need.

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