I don’t deliberately look for gaffes in my readings, regardless of the publication or the topic—they just seem to draw my attention. I’m unsure whether that’s a gift or a character fault. I overlook most writing bloopers, but some cry out for attention.
In looking over past bloopers printed in San Antonio’s Express-News—the only daily newspaper in the eighth largest city in the US—I found this item. My letter was not published by the Express-News so I decided to share it with a somewhat—potentially—larger audience.
Note for copy writers and copy editors—please read and heed.
To the Editor, Express-News: San Antonio, Texas
RE: Your Metro article on Saturday, March 3, 2007, “S.A. cops schooled in Mideast culture.”
“During a classroom session on sensitivity training for San Antonio police officers, a chill apparently came over Instructor Narjis Pierre, president of the San Antonio Muslim Women’s Association. In response to a statement made by SAPD Officer Barbara Thomas, Pierre reacted by closing her blinds. We know this because the article tells us that Pierre “shuttered” when she learned that Thomas had entered a men’s prayer room, an area in which women are not allowed.”
Instructor Pierre did not shutter. She shuddered. Copy writers and copy editors sometimes place an inordinate amount of trust in word-processing spell-checkers. Although a boon to writers and editors, such programs are not infallible. If a word is spelled correctly the spell-checker will ignore it, regardless of its meaning or the context in which it is used. Final reviews (readings) by the copy writer and copy editor are necessary to ensure correct spelling.
I know, I know—I’m fighting a losing battle.
So many errors, so little time.