Chronicle should help writers build skills


I used to work at The Chronicle many, many years ago, and in fact my time there had more impact on my career path and the joys of my later life than any other single event or decision. I rarely see The Chronicle, but today I picked up a copy while having lunch downtown. I was struck by the fairly significant grammar errors in two front-page leads.
Here is one culprit:

(“PETA to file complaints about U’s animal labs,” Nov. 11)8212;”The U’s animal laboratory facilities, located on upper campus, have been a regular target of animal advocacy outrage8212;but after years of shrugging off angry protesters, the anger (sic) could turn into an official federal matter for the lab.”

In this sentence, the implied subject spending “years of shrugging off angry protesters” is probably meant to be U officials. But because of the way the sentence is constructed, “anger” (sic) ends up doing the shrugging. This is what we call a dangling participle, and a good editor should catch it. The language in this lead (specifically the word choice) has so many strengths. It’s a shame that its power was diluted by this gaff. The subject of the final clause needs to be the same as the implied subject of the introductory clause8212;the agent of action doing the shrugging.

I really learned to write at The Chronicle, under the guidance of my news editor. Good writing is rarely taught in the public schools anymore. The Chronicle filled that void for me. I guess I just want to know or feel that The Chronicle to continuing to fill that void for others.
Thanks for your patience, and good luck.

Shauna Bona,
Salt Lake City