On the topic of proofreading, I don't think they do it at Kalmbach anymore. Saw a headline in one of their specials - "standarg gauge". And in a recent issue of CTT or MR (can't remember which), there was a typo in the editorial, which was on the first page of content! Had I done stuff like that in grade school, it would have been returned for a rewrite. With today's editing tools, there's really no excuse.
It hurts my brain so badly that I've stopped buying the CTT special issues because of this. If I hadn't been with CTT since the first issue, I'd probably stop my subscription to it as well.
Very sad for a company with Kalmbach's history.
Considering how many misspellings and grammatical errors occur on this forum...
Been reading older issues of Trains; by old, I mean '60s.
The issues are much deeper than misspellings/typos ("today's editing tools" are largely responsible for the decline in editing skills--I am convinced of this causation in my profession as a teacher of writing). Writing skill in general has declined. Few take pride in effective, polished prose these days.
The kinds of writing we do most often are partly to blame. The surrender to the word processor is partly to blame (who ever thought it was a good idea to put computer geeks in charge of usage?). The abandonment of writing instruction in favor of other sorts of subjects at the formative levels is partly to blame. But perhaps most of all, the indifference of the audience is largely to blame. If the reader is indifferent to the quality of the prose--and, being ignorant of good prose, most readers are--why should the writer care about its quality?
One facet of the issue is context. On the forum here, the writing more closely approximates conversation than publication. No one speaks Standard Written English (hence the name), and so few take especial care with their posts. The technical term is register, which refers to level of formality. Typos here are generally a product of apathy to one degree or another. But the magazines are a different story. They are in the context of professional print; the "sin" in their pages is therefore the greater.
And so back to those mags: those guys could write. Even the letters to the editor were polished compared to what we see in feature writing these days. Sophisticated syntax, elaborate and correct use of punctuation to effect meaning*, and precise diction all contribute to the quality. Oh, does the diction of much feature writing today grate on my ears! Misused or inaccurate jargon--difficult to credit in a specialized publication--and endless repetition of the same few words reflects both a tin ear and a (probably correct) sense that the writer knows the reader is weakly literate.
Now, there are good writers even these days. I will offer Rich Melvin as one (hardly the only!) example just on this forum. He sometimes relies overmuch on special effects (fonts, emoticons), but his prose is concise, precise, and forceful. In general, the prose in OGR is better than that in CTT these days, but David P. Morgan's are rare and endangered everywhere. Few want good prose anymore, and fewer still recognize it.
*Yes, I wrote "correct use of punctuation to effect meaning": I use effect in its verb sense, meaning to accomplish or create, not in its noun sense of outcome, and I don't mean affect in its sense of to influence or change.