Thursday, 2 December 2010

Re what counts?

In this age of 140-character Twitters and abbreviated text messages, it might be convenient for some to defend the decline in the care taken by print media to get it right.

Take this American university study:

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty unesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mattaer in whaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt!

If readers can understand the message, why the fuss about spelling?

Pride and professionalism come to mind. Hopefully that line of thought is not yesterday's mentality.

As a TSF reader said in a posted comment,  you can miss typos under pressure. 

"I do my best, but like most editors, if I've made a mistake I keep reading like it was right all along," says the reader.

As we do with the jumbled words above.

Proofreaders are focused on text and early Toronto Sun proofreaders did an admirable job in making the tabloid look professional. 

Not perfect, nobody is. But not as embarrassing as mistakes being made without proofreaders.


  1. It's called standards.

    Besides, words are the tools of our trade. Let's use them properly and effectively.

  2. It's also about credibility. If a paper can't do the little things right, (spelling, grammar, general literacy), then good chance it isn't doing the big things right, (reporting, general journalism). How can you take a newspaper seriously when there are typos in a front page headline, main art is flopped, playoff sports score is wrong, photo of Prime Minister has his head cut off, news story names wrong city,... If the paper itself doesn't care, why should the readers?

    Not smarter than a fifth grader? How embarrassing.

  3. Looks like Sun Media isn't the only one cutting proof readers:

  4. As a proofreader for several magazines (ex-Sun), this study holds very true. You can never catch every mistake, and certainly the longer the article, the more likely you are to miss something. Of course that's no excuse for having a front-page headline with a typo and I've seen enough of those in my day. I used to cringe when I looked at the country edition of the Sun I worked at because we never really proofed the edition until that one was printed, so while the city edition was all pretty and "correct", the one that got sent out on the trucks was the one with the "Photo credit here" photo credits and nonsensical headlines.