What’s happened to the legendary fact-checkers and copy-editing at the New Yorker? Flicking through this week’s issue, I first stumbled across a reference to USAID in a piece on telenovelas by Hanna Rosin. Now the New Yorker has a thing about acronyms: if you spell them out letter by letter, you put them in uppercase with full stops after each letter: U.S.A. But if they’re acronyms proper, and pronounced as words, as in Aids for instance, you put them in small caps. (I’m not even going to try to get small caps to work in HTML, you’ll have to imagine it.)
In the New Yorker this week, we get a complete abomination: U.S. is in uppercase, and then there’s a space, and then AID is in small caps. I see no justification for the space; the only conceivable justification for the small caps is that the name of the agency is pronounced “US Aid”.
But it isn’t. USAID is pronounced U-S-A-I-D. And so the New Yorker should have written it, New Yorker-style, U.S.A.I.D.
Shaken by this uncharacteristic lapse, we then flick further on, to the long and uninformative profile of Howard Stringer, the CEO of Sony. What do we find?
With none of Sony’s productions values, Bill Gates, the C.E.O. of Microsoft, had held forth on the same stage for an hour and a half, and his off-the-cuff responses to questions from the audience were received as if he were Yoda or the chairman of the Fed.
Notice the major cockup there? It’s the C.E.O. part, of course. The full stops are in all the right places, but, er, Bill Gates isn’t the CEO of Microsoft, he hasn’t been for over six years, and he certainly wasn’t CEO when he gave the January 2006 speech in Las Vegas that Mark Singer is writing about. Given that a major theme of Singer’s article is the competition between Sony (Playstation) and Microsoft (XBox), one would think that he could get their respective CEOs right.