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Signs That Your Editor is Not Interested in What You’re Saying: An Honest Assesment of Meghan McCain’s Writing

03.31.09 by Natasha | 9 Comments | Digg This

I’m in a magenta-haze about Meghan McCain. Dizzy and delighted by her presence on the national radar, I’ve let my emotions get the better of me. I find Megs to be affable and independent-minded. Her politics are shit but her moxy is magnetic. She’s also trying to make a gig in the media scene by being, get this, a reporter! She’s actually hustling on deadlines, adjusting her word counts, and dealing with crazed editors. As a fellow female wading through the media bloodbath in NYC, I’m almost hesitant to knock Megs in the name of webby sisterhood and all.


But my darling McCain just makes too many ugly missteps that any worthy editor could fix (after they finished cringing). Cliche turns of phrase, meaningless words, and an overall lack of precision all clutter McCain’s reporting. These mistakes are totally avoidable. But it seems that the busy bees over at the Daily Beast are relying on McCain’s namesake and mystique to drive traffic rather than the quality of her content (“…shocked, SHOCKED that there this gambling in this establishment” etc.). How else would you explain their indifference to the amateurs stylings packed into her latest piece (on Congressmen Schock).


1. Overused turns of phrase:

At the end of the day, Congressman Schock is only three years older than me. Which means he can relay a message in ways my father never could.” That phrase is meaningless and only deserves scorn.

2. Weak, wishy-washy statements

“Schock’s rapid rise to the national level is, if nothing else, interesting, especially given the serious soul-searching the Republican Party is experiencing.” Interesting? This is your thesis? A 1,200 word piece that hinges on a subject that is of “interest.” Megs, why the fuck should I keep reading?

3. Confused, lifeless style

When I asked Schock who his favorite president was, he told me Teddy Roosevelt, because he was “a very progressive minded… but at the same time conservative-principled person.”I would venture to say Schock is of the same mind. If nothing else, in an Obama-crazed land, he is getting people’s attention and putting another fresh face at the center of what it is too often perceived as an old-news, boring party.

McCain awkwardly pivots from chatty online reporter, to self-serious neutral journalist, to soapboxing columnist. The Schock piece is one part fangirl loveletter, two parts personal essay, and one part soft-ball interview. The end result: Megan McCain saunters right up to the microphone and says nothing.

4.Tons of jargon and meaningless words.

Realistic, values, human, truthfully, interesting, branding. Each of them have several different meanings and can deviate greatly from author to reader. Once again, it undermines any type of clear/original thought.

Now, I have made all these same mistakes (they’re on display if you click through the archives). It’s a shame that Megs isn’t getting the type of scrutiny and mentorship that she deserves. Anyone who dares call herself an editor knows that these mistakes are barbarities. If you skim over her first piece blasting Anne Coulter you’ll witness her nascent voice and raw talent. It’s too bad its getting snuffed out by a hack editor.

Consider this a thank you note to the those who have sternly, but lovingly, placed their hand on the back of my head and rubbed my nose in the shit I’ve produced so I won’t do it again.

(But there’s some good news, Megs. Commit this to memory and you’ll be ok! )

(full disclosure: I still want to be Megs’ bestie and I’m not really sure how to use commas.)


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