The Press: Sacred and Profane

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word," Mark Twain once observed, "is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." Since Twain's day, in the view of many newspaper editors, a plague of fireflies has filled the sky: neologisms proliferate and the rules of grammar have raveled badly. To deal with the situation, the Associated Press and United Press International are preparing a new joint stylebook, and the New York Times has just issued a revised 231-page Manual of Style and Usage (Quadrangle; $10), though the last version appeared only 14 years ago. In the words of...

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