The Mighty Asterisk

Someone's head is sure to roll at Newsweek. Why? Because of the lowly, mighty power of the asterisk.

For those of you who haven't seen the current Newsweek (dated September 6, 2010 and currently in the mail or at a newstand near you), it displays the cover image shown.

So what's the problem? The lowly, mighty asterisk.

The cover copy proclaims:
The Making of a
Wall Street-Loving
*Who isn’t actually any of those things
The footnote flagged with an asterisk makes it clear: Obama isn’t any of the dramatic descriptors. The way the asterisk is positioned, it indicates Obama isn't the president, either.

This isn’t about politics, it’s about language. It's also an accurate reading, based solely on how this copy is written, although perhaps that's not precisely what Newsweek meant to imply.

Granted, making an error on the cover of Newsweek isn’t as important as making an error during brain surgery or a rocket launch, but sometimes precision and a little bit of punctuation know-how counts. A lot.

(Are you up for a challenge? What's the easiest way to fix this mistake?)


Anonymous said...

Move the asterisk up a line.

Barbara said...


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