Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moving Violations

It’s summer, and vacationers everywhere are hitting the roads. Unfortunately, the typo brigade is still hard at work back in the office.

From – what else? – online news stories posted by local television stations:

“…In Colorado, it is illegal to ride your bike at night without lights on them.”

One bike. Not multiple bikes. "It." Not "them."

“…When one of the teens attempted to move the woman's vehicle from the driveway, somehow the emergency brake was released.”

Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t it common practice to release the emergency brake when one is attempting to move a vehicle?

Not to fear – an intrepid reporter from a rival station cleared up the whole thing:

“Police said two juvenile males were helping her clean her driveway in the 1000 block of Vega Drive Monday afternoon when they tried to move her car one of them released the emergency brake while the vehicle was in neutral, it rolled backwards down the driveway, that's when officers say the woman was hit by an open door.”

Correction: An intrepid reporter who left his or her bag of punctuation marks at home. I think this one is in the running for the Run-On Sentence of 2011 championship.

All snarkiness aside, my heart goes out to the lady involved in this accident, her family, and the two young men who were just trying to help.

Have fun this summer, folks. And be safe out there. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Errors in Perpetuity

I have discovered what I believe is a terrific illustration of the information-at-the-speed-of-Internet age in which we live, and what happens when NOBODY bothers to proofread the articles that are posted in said age and at said speed.

Our story begins unhappily with a fire that destroyed an entire city block in Alamosa, Colorado. In describing the incident, a reporter from the town’s Valley Courier told of a firefighter who was injured:

“…when he became entangled in the wrung of a ladder…”

The story was picked up by the Associated Press, who repeated the error verbatim. The Gazette in Colorado Springs used the AP report in its version of the story, and also allowed the error to slip through. The Denver Post then joined in the game, with the identical error appearing in its brief coverage of the fire.

It’s like a journalistic version of Groundhog Day.

We all know why this one reporter’s boo-boo spread (dare I say like wildfire?!) to contaminate an unknown number of other accounts of this fire. Newspapers and magazines have laid off staff and now rely on electronic sources for stories to fill their pages and web sites. But you’d think that someone somewhere along the way would read the stuff being published, and correct obvious errors such as a ladder’s “wrung.”

For the record, wrung is the past tense of wring, which means to “squeeze, press, twist, or compress” (among other similar definitions – see my previous post) according to my Webster’s dictionary. Both fire ladders and regular ladders have rungs, which are the horizontal supports where you place your feet when climbing the ladder.

Nobody’s perfect. But can we at least try to get these things right?