Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's National Punctuation Day!

National Punctuation Day comes around every September 24. It even has its own website (www.nationalpunctuationday.com) and everything! If you have some time to spare, click over there and check out some of the links and resources. It's grammar-geek heaven.

As you can tell by the time stamp on this post, I almost missed the festivities. That's what happens when life gets in the way of writing. If you hurry, you can still get cake and balloons and celebrate those funny little marks that spend the rest of the year being misused or ignored.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Misinformation at Modern Speeds

When I began writing this blog, it was a way to vent my frustrations with rampant bad writing that now permeates mass media. But in today’s warp-speed information world, there is another issue that has become increasingly problematic, and that is bad reporting as a result of trying to beat every other media outlet to the “breaking story.”

Case in point: According to a Huffington Post story, on the day of the Washington Navy Yard shootings a man by the name of Rollie Chance helped his daughter get ready for school. As he went about the rest of his day, he heard about the shootings and quickly realized they had taken place at the very building where he used to work.

As if that wasn’t shocking enough, ABC news called his house seeking information about the accused gunman, who’d been identified as Rollie Chance. Shortly afterward, FBI agents showed up and were surprised that their prime suspect, who was presumed dead, was standing before them. It seems the badge Chance turned in to security officials in October 2012 was recovered at the scene, which led authorities to his door in pursuit of possible leads in the case. Somehow that detail leaked to media outlets, and the chaos began.

This isn’t the first time that reporters have gotten the facts wrong early in an unfolding incident. Sadly, I don’t think it will be the last. But what modern media seems to blissfully ignore are the detrimental effects their misinformation has on the innocent people swept up in the frenzy. Chance and his family are still being pursued by the press, and have been forced to change daily routines in an attempt to continue on with their lives.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy,” Chance told the Huffington Post. “I think there needs to be some accountability in reporting. Instead of being the first reporter to have breaking news, you have to have accountability. Verify before you vilify.”

Sound advice from someone who’s living the nightmare.

Monday, September 16, 2013

It Goes Here and Here and Here...

Unless you've been living under a proverbial rock, you know that my home state of Colorado is currently experiencing its own version of the Great Flood. News junkie that I am, I went to our local newspaper's web site this morning to see what kind of updates might be posted there. At the bottom of the story, repeated six times, was this paragraph:

Body - Justify story goes here here and here and here and here here here and here here here and here here and here here here here and here and here here here here and here here here here here and here here here.

I’d make a wisecrack about how you can always tell when the latest crop of new interns hits the news outlets, but since it is “Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month” I suppose I’ll have to let this one slide.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Forget

I originally intended to insert a commemorative photo or graphic here, but let's be honest: Does anyone who was alive on 9/11/2001, or who has grown up in the 12 years since, really need a visual reminder of that day's events?





9/11. Never forget.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month

September is "Be Kind to Editors and Writers" month.

In a 2004 article commemorating this celebration of writers and editors, titled "Common Sense Journalism," Doug Fisher discusses Post Grammatic Stress Syndrome, "a serious affliction as we see a wider generational gap in language and decreasing shared cultural context (partly because of the fragmentation of the same media we are training our students to become part of)..."

He goes on to describe some signs that your favorite writer, editor, or educator may be experiencing PGSS. My favorite:

"The editor bolts up in bed in the middle of the night, flings open the window, and shouts: 'It's 3 a.m. in the morning, and I don't care if that's redundant!'"

Along with the warning signs of PGSS are tips to help those you know suffering from this ailment, including:
  • With a reassuring hug, note that you recall at least one time recently where someone remembered subject-verb agreement or used "it" instead of "they" correctly.
  • Go through the morning paper first and clip out all the offending items. If asked, say you were clipping coupons. If so many must be clipped out that it's too obvious, hide the paper, say the delivery person messed up again and you can’t get it redelivered because it’s after 10 a.m. – and then disable the Internet access.
Yep. This is my kind of month. :-)