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.
August 27, 2009 at 12:44 pm
I’m at least glad you tried. I’m a professional proofreader and my wife is a copy editor, and we share your pain.
August 28, 2009 at 10:15 pm
Thanks for the comment. Proof reading and copy editing are daunting tasks, and most authors cheerfully accept all the credit for perfect copy, as I’m sure you and your wife will agree. At our very best we will only make a dent or two here and there in the mountains of errors which appear in modern writings, but as you said, we at least have to keep on trying.
August 27, 2009 at 1:12 pm
I wish the word-choice was the only thing to shudder about.
August 28, 2009 at 10:38 pm
Thanks for the visit and for the comment, one which I assume refers to the current political climate in our country and its stance on the world stage. I’m feeling that cold chill more and more—I shudder, shiver, shake, tremble, cringe, fear, doubt, disbelieve and just plain worry about what the future has in store for us.
September 4, 2009 at 3:44 am
I share your pain as well, Dad!