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.

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