Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I poked around on the Internet looking for Thanksgiving-related typos that weren’t already a year or two old and came up empty. But I did run across this ad from Amazon:

A jewelry organizer that looks like an indoor/outdoor thermometer – now that’s a clever way to fool a burglar!

Have a peaceful and pleasant Thanksgiving day.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What a Pane, Indeed

We get them all the time – those annoying phone calls from supposed market researchers or political pollsters operating outside the restrictions of the Do Not Call List.

After a recent series of hang up calls on my answering machine, I Googled the number that appeared on the caller ID just to see if it was legit. Of course it wasn’t, according to several websites dedicated to airing consumer complaints about the unsolicited calls they receive. The caller ID says research firm; the actual call is about selling something. Illegal as hell, but the scammers still manage to get away with it.

Most of the comments I saw were readable with a few typos here and there – nothing blog-worthy until I ran across this one:

“They call, it beeps. Then no won their. WHAT A PANE!”

Yeah. I just don’t even know what to say about that one.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Affect and Effect: Not the Same

One error I’m seeing more frequently is the misusage of “affect” and “effect.” Contrary to what some writers seem to think, these two words are not interchangeable.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I see so many writing mistakes on any given day that I don’t even try to capture them all. But here are two examples that mimic what I’ve seen recently:

“Road construction will effect drivers for the next week.”

“The special affects for the show were created by XYZ Studios.”

One I did make note of came from an advertisement for a radio financial program:

“No nonsense real talk about the housing market and trends that effect our local and national economy”

That should say, “…that affect our local and national economy.”

Here’s the deal. “Affect” is a verb meaning “to make a difference to.” Or, as my computer dictionary ironically puts it, “to have an effect on.” (Not very helpful for those who are confused about these two words!)

“Effect” is a noun meaning “a change that is a result or consequence of an action.” It can also mean personal belongings, or the special lighting, sound, scenery, etc. used in movies, TV shows, and music.

Now, I confess that I usually have to stop and think about which word I’m using. The way I remember is that “affect” is an action (verb), and both words start with the letter ‘a’.

I can’t take credit for that tip because I’m pretty sure I learned it from someone else during my life’s journey. But now you can use it, too.

Monday, November 11, 2013

To All Who Served...

...and continue to serve and protect our nation and the freedoms we hold dear: Thank you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Not Much Fun Anymore

I have a confession. In recent months, my little hobby of poking fun at typos in mass media has lost some of its appeal. My theory: It’s just not as much fun these days because bad writing is everywhere, every day. Now and then I’ll spot a gem worthy of appearing on this blog, and we can all have a good chuckle and learn from someone else’s mistakes. But for the most part, bad spelling, grammar, and syntax appear on average at least once per story that I read online (which is where I get most of my news lately). If I were to post each error I see, I’d be sitting here all day writing nothing but blog posts. The whole state of modern media is just rather depressing.

We all know that print publications have downsized their editorial and proofreading staffs. But I’ve discovered that local television news stations have also been downsizing, which could be one reason why so many of their online stories are riddled with mistakes.

Recently I had opportunities to cover a couple of events that were also being covered by local media. The first event was attended by crews from two TV stations. One team consisted of the reporter and a camera operator, while the other was a team of one filling both roles.

The second event was also covered by a single reporter filling multiple roles. As she schlepped her equipment out the door en route to the next story, her comment to me was something along the lines of, “This is just how it is these days.”

Back in the days B.I. (Before Internet), TV news reporters were paired with camera operators and worked in teams to cover stories. Any written mistakes in copy were usually seen only by producers and anchors, and easily smoothed over in the final production so that viewers rarely saw any errors.

But now it’s one person doing everything: Reporting. Filming. Writing copy for the web site. Repeat as needed, no matter how slow or fast the news day runs.

Now the mistakes I see make a little more sense. Anyone who carries that much of a workload, all while under the pressure of deadlines and breaking news, is going to make mistakes. It’s a shame all around.

That doesn’t excuse some of the stuff I see, but at least I have a better understanding of why it happens.