Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tough Times for Local Broadcasters

If the local TV newscasts I’ve seen over the past few weeks are any indication, we’re experiencing a shortage of correctly spelled graphics and reporters who can competently read a script on camera.

·        A news station that proudly calls itself “the best newscast in Southern Colorado” aired a graphic to accompany a story about the backlog of teaching applications in our state. The header:

“Colorado Fighting Huge Back

·        Another station aired a segment about an unusual protest with air fresheners that happened in the Israeli Parliament. The banner for the video:

“Air Freshner Protest”

·        An anchor on a noon news show announced that unemployment “fell by 37,000 dollars last month.” (That was supposed to be “claims.”)

·        Then there was this header for upcoming news segments:


One of the best ones I’ve heard recently, though, came from a story about the premature appearance of Easter candy on store shelves just before Christmas. In describing the unsettling trend of holiday specific merchandise hitting stores earlier and earlier every year, the veteran reporter noted how odd it felt “seeing paisley shades of candy before the red and green are gone from the stores…”

I’m pretty sure he meant “pastel” shades. Paisley candy, however, is an intriguing idea…

Friday, January 21, 2011

Four Reasons to Check Another Site

This web site from the Pop Hangover Network has been around for a while, but I just discovered it and had to share:

Spelling Fails - Look! An entire site devoted to spelling gone wrong! Squee!

"But I already spend too much time on the Internet!" you protest. "I don't need any more stuff to look at!"  Here, then, are four reasons to check out the Spelling Fails web site and bookmark it for future perusal:

  • It's Friday. You need some laughs to start your weekend.
  • Spelling Fails supports the theory that dictionaries are used more as doorstops or kiddie seats than for their intended purpose.
  • We will all feel much better about ourselves and the mistakes we've made after seeing some of these blunders.
  • It will take you less than 30 seconds to realize that the world does, indeed, need a proofreader.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yes, E-Mails Need a Proofreader

Some people aren't the best at spelling and grammar.  I get that.  A lack of spelling, grammar, and/or proofreading skills isn't all that critical to Facebook posts or e-mails between friends.  But writers who write for a writing publication really should know better.

Here's the subject line of an e-mail I recently received from a writing magazine:

Win Cash and Prizes with you best writing!

Your best writing.  With an 'r' please.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Typo Trifecta

As if to prove that yesterday's post was, indeed, an accurate assessment of my hometown newspaper, here are three headline errors from yesterday's print edition:


The phrase is "makes its case."

The animal was either "poisoned" or "killed by poison," not both.

Well, if you read the first line of the story, it's quite obvious that this lucky mom is from Idaho, not Ohio.

Did I mention that these three typos appeared on two successive pages?

Thank goodness the weekend's here.  Obviously someone at this paper needs a break.  :-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's Snowing Typos

(Yeah, I know – any attempts to make amusing references to snow will fall totally flat with any readers in the South or East today.  But I'm doing it anyway… <grin>)

Over the years, I've learned which publications can be trusted to produce consistently (or even mostly) error-free copy and which publications cannot – especially at the local level.  For example, my hometown paper, The Gazette, provided a plethora of typos that I submitted to earn extra credit in a copy editing class.

The Denver Post, on the other hand, is a paper I enjoy from both a journalistic and a copy editor point of view.  The Post isn't error-free, but typos and other missteps seem to occur on a much less frequent basis than in my local paper.  When a mistake pops up, though, it's usually interesting.  Here are a couple I found in a story about last week's storm:

The snow piling up this morning is expected to dump up to 9 inches on the metro area…

Take a look at the subject-verb combination here.  As written, the writer is saying that the snow already on the ground is going to dump even more snow on the city, when it's actually the storm that will do the dumping!  Tsk.

Then there's this account of a bus accident later in the story:

...Eight of the 12 ople on board have been taken to a hospital…

I'd like to know what kind of word-processing program missed that one, because it's clearly highlighted in mine.  :-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

And We Wonder Why Our Kids Can't Spell...

Today's blunder comes from Fail Blog.  The irony is almost too much to bear:

(Photo submitted by "MasterPDasko"; photographer unknown)

Is this a prank?  Or did someone really create the sign that way?

I'll let you be the judge.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Run-On Champ of 2010

As much as I mourn the decline of the English language in all formats, I try not to pick on blog posts or other informal communications – at least, not too much....

However, this comment for a 2010 story about a fire at a local waste transfer station deserves recognition for the writer's overuse of the word "and" (among other grammatical and spelling travesties):

"I had heard a big boom and then i started to see the big black cloud of smoke and then i drove by it about 15-20 mins after it caught on fire and then i called 911 and they came out and then didn't finally get it put out untill like 10:00 or 10:30 last night and the smoke was really bad and if you were to walk outside you would of have to walk back inside that's how bad it was and how bad it smelt."

The Run-On Champ of 2010 is crowned.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Writing Resolutions

I'm not much of a resolution maker (or keeper, for that matter). And I know that by now all of you have been bombarded by enough self-improvement ideas to write a dozen books on the subject.  So – do we really need more suggestions?

Based on the astounding volume of typos I discovered in 2010:  YES.

Here is my Random 10 List for ways to improve your writing in 2011:

1.  Quit putting apostrophes where they don't belong – learn the difference between possessive and plural.


The Butler's paid a 30 day bond.
Elbert County now contracts out it's dispatch work to Douglas County.


The Butlers paid a 30 day bond.
Elbert County now contracts out its dispatch work to Douglas County.

2.  And while you're at it, stop inserting hyphens where they don't belong!


She was 54-years-old.
(They) would have to either pay more money or give-up the dogs.


She was 54 years old.
(They) would have to either pay more money or give up the dogs.

3.  Two words:  spell check. 

4.  After using spell check, check again with your own eyes to avoid landing on the Homonym Horrors list.


I poured over our new budget the other night.


I pored over our new budget the other night.

5.  Proofread, proofread, proofread!  Every word should be correct and correctly spelled. Sentences and paragraphs should make sense. Punctuate correctly and appropriately.

6.  Keep a current dictionary on hand at all times – and use it.

7.  Keep a current style manual on hand at all times – and use it.


Police said (he) was also carrying a 0.45 pistol hidden in his waistband.


Police said (he) was also carrying a .45 pistol hidden in his waistband.

8.  Knock off gratuitous wordplay that doesn't serve the piece.

9.  Practice, practice, practice! Writing well is no different than playing a musical instrument well or playing a sport well – you must practice to improve your skills. Use every opportunity – business correspondence, personal e-mails, Facebook posts, blog comments – to practice good writing, spelling and punctuation.

10.  Never stop learning - new words, writing styles, general knowledge – anything that hones your writing skills.

And with that, good readers, I bid you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011!