Wednesday, 17 November 2010

They got beated

It's time for the London Free Press to bend over for a paddling:

"Beated"? Really?

Thanks to a TSF reader for that gem.

The other day it was "savy" in Northumberland Today.

And the Toronto Sun's recent Luckily, not gladiators were hurt.

And Port Hopeless instead of Fort Hopeless.

India outsourcing?

Overworked Centre of Excellence staffers?

Newsroom pressure?

We all make mistakes.

Who caught the "icey" during a weather report last winter on Good Morning America?

But errors in print and online befuddle those who expect more from mainstream media.


  1. I know papers don't have proofreaders anymore, but come on, at least use the free spellchecker built into every computer and in most software. Most newspapers and TV channels don't even look at their own web site. If they don't care, why should the public?

    BTW, "beated" is a slang term. But it's very unlikely what the LFP intended.

  2. I'm sure those papers who just had their errors pointed out will appreciate your attention. I know I loved it whenever my editing mistakes were pointed out.

    You did hit the point, however. It's newsroom pressure and deadline pressure. A lot of the editors out there don't bother spell-checking with either Quark or InDesign because it's a hassle.

    Why? Because the spellcheckers on both programs are almost too good - they catch every little thing that it doesn't know or recognize and, because they're not programmed for either CP Style, Sun Style, that can be a lot.

    At deadline, spellchecking the page can turn into a lot of mouse-clicks. I bet if you asked a lot of editors, in confidence, they'd tell you that they assume the reporters are spellchecking their stories before filing and otherwise hope to catch the typos and errors during the page proof.

  3. Quote: "...they're not programmed for either CP Style, Sun Style, ..."

    But they can be. Maybe get a high school student who's computer "savy" to do it for food coupons. Or, call Tansa, (which will probably require real money).

    Quote:"...they'd tell you that they assume the reporters are spellchecking their stories ..."

    But the reporter is assuming the editor will do it. :-)

    Hey, TorStar is just as bad.

  4. Yes, human-produced newspapers have always made mistakes and will continue to do so because humans aren't perfect. Still, don't call places Centres of Excellence if you're not reinforcing or acknowledging quality is Job 1. It has become frustrating pointing out the errors because it seems our concerns aren't always taken seriously. Excuses and passing the buck are the usual fare.

  5. One word: proofreaders. I started as one. One-by-one they've eliminated the job from the dailies to save the equivalent of a 7-11 clerk's salary (when it was last on our wage grid, it paid $14 an hour). A minimal investment, it would reduce typos significantly. I would catch scores of them in every shift.
    Jim Slotek
    Vice Chair
    Toronto Sun Unit
    Local 87-M

  6. I worked for a Metroland paper. A few years back, when a new shark was installed as publisher, the very first person pink-slipped was the proof-reader. Not necessary, they said. The resulting goof-ups would have been hilarious if they weren't so embarrassing. It got better as editors demanded cleaner copy and improved their own performance, but it too quite a while.

  7. Re: proofreaders. I've seen them work back when I started in a weekly, but never understood the argument for having one in a daily. I've been in newsrooms where a lot of copy is filed at or close to deadline. At 1 a.m. is a proofreader going to go over the copy? And copy that is in place earlier should be proofread by editors waiting for those late writers to file.

  8. Typos are one thing, but after catching "laser site" and "teaming with tourists", I think it goes far beyond the slip of a finger, and moves into postliteracy. And not in a good way...

    We may have to face it: we are now into the second generation of "thumbists", lol, and readers who admire, or even require, fully spelled-out words, are becoming a minority.

    That, and a few decades of "whole language" education have much to do with it.

  9. Re: Proofreaders not being needed at a daily paper.

    I was a proofreader at the Toronto Sun a few years before they got rid of the position. I think the position made a lot of sense. Most pages are done well before the deadline. And somebody has to proof them. You would think it would make more sense to have a $14 an hour proofreader doing it, rather than a $30 an hour copy editor.

    Considering all the cutbacks at Sun Media, I'm not sure copy editors really have a ton of extra time to spend proofreading. I know when I was a copy editor in one of their smaller papers, all the proofing was an added burden on top of having to put together pages, write stories etc. Proofreading a page properly takes time.

  10. JA Goneaux, I would have to agree. Just in the last 10 days I have seen, from two different writers, references to people "pouring" over records, "rogues gallery" used as a positive description and "compromised" instead of "comprised." Also "world-renouned." Misuses like these are becoming more and more common and I believe won't be corrected by a proofreader from the same generation as the writers.

  11. To Anonymous 8:37: I wasn't there at 1 a.m., except for the night John Lennon died. (Although I was often there at 1 a.m. at Crooks with the Rim Pigs after our shifts ended).
    But I was there nightly at 11 p.m. when the presses rolled on the first edition (with classes the next day). And the attitude of the Sun in its early days - "If it's in front of you, deal with it" - was such that I would often head to the nearest word processing terminal and pump out a corrected headline myself.
    Not a bad return on a 22-year-old proofreader making $5/hr.
    Jim Slotek
    (btw, I'm posting as "anonymous" because for some reason the blog won't let me use my URL sign-in)