Proofreaders of the World, Untie!

IMG_1201I admit it: I’m a dyed-in-the-wool proofreader. When I encounter a typo in an article or print/online news report, my mind latches onto it like a limpet. In recent weeks I came across two incidents that illustrate the kind of thing that catches my eye.

First, I was reading an online article in my local newspaper. I came across a misspelt word – the same term appeared not once, but twice. I emailed the reporter, pointing out the error. I did this out of curiosity, not from a sense of moral superiority. (After all, I don’t always spell perfectly.) The reporter acknowledged what he had done; what he said next floored me. It turned out that he, not a copy editor, was responsible for proofreading his own articles. To me this is indicative of how modern “journalism” is so cost-driven that historically fundamental practices of the profession have been cast aside, to save money.

Next, a Civil War re-enactor posted to Facebook a television report concerning damage done to a Civil War veterans’ cemetery in Michigan. The video’s tagline read, “Ancestors protest damage to veterans’ graves.” Unless the reporter engaged a seance or used a Ouija board to obtain her facts, that should have been “descendants,” not “ancestors.” While a number of people commented on this video’s topic before I saw it, none of them pointed out the incorrect word use!

What lesson can be learned from these examples? In my opinion they show society’s growing unfamiliarity with how words are spelt, and the way they are used. Dear Reader, do you find yourself often stumbling across linguistic mistakes like those I’ve described?

(BTW, did you notice the typographical error in this posting’s title?)

One thought on “Proofreaders of the World, Untie!

  1. Improperly edited books, newspaper articles, memoranda, etc. not only are aggravating to the proofreader, but they run the risk of misleading the reader. I can’t tell you how poorly some otherwise savvy businesspeople write. Frequently they state one thing while meaning entirely another.

    On a related topic, I think that with the advent of e-mail, texting, Facebooking (is that even a word?) and the like, spelling is undergoing a rapid period of evolution. We would likely have difficulty recognizing the English language as it will appear in another 50 to 100 years.


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