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MMD > Archives > February 1997 > 1997.02.09 > 20Prev  Next

MMD Editorial Practices
By Dan Wilson

John Tuttle said:

> Please let people think for themselves and initiate an editorial
> section for the editors comments. That's my suggestion.

I've been a fairly high-profile editor of narrow-gauge railway preservation journals since 1961 and have made the governing organisations of those journals very angry indeed with my freedom of comment.

But I have a number of rules which, I am sorry to say, are not followed by all such (railway journal) editors.

Official notices or articles made on behalf of the sponsoring organis- ation are changed and corrected as little as possible, and no editorial comment is specifically made to those pieces. I may, however, comment elsewhere on policies underlying them. (!)

Editorial comment attached in the form of footnotes to letters and articles is limited strictly to amplifying detail or information. The article must be given space and freedom in the journal to make its point. Sometimes this information will however have the effect of undermining the point of the letter, as where a mistake about resources or costs has been made. Where a letter criticises someone, it is usual to hold it until a response can be published along with it.

Some of these rules are not appropriate for an electronic discussion, where immediacy is vital.

Editorial footnotes stand or fall by their aptness, respect for the writer, wit and tact. Robbie and Jody have kept their comments lightweight and, where critical, gently so.

I take John's point, but on balance I tend to feel that removing MMD editorial comments to a special area would have the effect of lending them more authority than intended, and of clogging up communication as readers switch to-and-from the articles or points referred to (assuming they bother to).

Dan Wilson

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