Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wait Until There's A Story About Frat Boys

 The above spelling error was in a news aggregator I sometimes look at and in fairness was not in the original story the summary refers to. But such errors are not rare any more in legitimate news stories. I have a file folder in my computer that I started about two years ago where, for awhile, I was saving examples I came across of mistakes in editing and writing like this one. The folder even has stories from the New York Times in it.

I say "for awhile" because such errors came to be so common that I just got tired of going through the process of saving the stories each time I saw them.

It was once very rare to see an error anywhere in a newspaper, and errors in headlines, like this one, were so uncommon that they were singled out and made fun of in columns in the same way that oddities like UFO sightings or potatoes in the shape of the Virgin Mary are.

This decline in editing and writing is one consequence of the decline of Journalism. Not the most serious one, of course, that being the danger to democracy as newspapers lay off reporters and editors and close foreign bureaus, or shut down altogether, and it becomes more and more difficult for us to know what those in power and their handmaidens in government are actually doing.

The decline in actual Journalism is accompanied by the rise of Republican talk radio and Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, both of which are rife with easily demonstrable inaccuracies, and at Fox News, news programming is gradually being replaced with programs featuring race baiting, Islamaphobia and conspiracy theories. Almost every serious Republican presidential contender, by the way, is on the Fox payroll.

The less we know, the less power we have to prevent the advance of Reaganomics and the decline of our living standards that is already showing up in government statistics. Statistics, by the way, that Republicans are trying to prevent from even being collected. In some localities, for example, notably California, it is unlawful now for the government to collect the kind of data that make it possible to prove systemic racial discrimination.

Such editorial sloppiness is also, I'd venture to say, the result of overworked and overwrought online editors, as workers in the new Reaganomics economy are expected to be ever more "productive," that is, work more for less pay.


Note: Having been a reporter, who was not particularly strong in spelling, I know how easy it is to make simple spelling errors like the one pictured above. You are concentrating first on factual accuracy, and on making sure the story is clearly worded and is constructed so as to get the point across unambiguously. Often you are under deadline pressure. No one appreciated copy editors more than I did, and they were all good at what they did. Nor does anyone appreciate computer spell checkers or use them more. But still, if you mean to say "solve" and there is such a word as "slove," you are up shot creek.


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