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Local Papers Need Proofers!

I sympathize with how hard it must be to put out a daily newspaper — heck, even a weekly. I try to do this blog every day and you see how well that goes — because there’s always a paying client I’ve got to tend to (which is lucky on one hand, hell, several hands, but leaves little time for fun stuff like blogging!).

But the local papers — and I know times are tough — are stinting on the areas where it matters most. Nearly every week someone mentions something in the Sarasota Herald Tribune — a misspelling, the wrong word used, etc. One week the paper referred to a women whose husband had passed away as a widower. Um, hello????? And they did it more than once in the same piece.

Now in today’s paper, this: scan0001

they don’t even take out their own notes on what kind of text they want to include in their headers. See the lines in the subheading: “Something: Followed by three lines of sumgraf kind of copy down here.” Clearly a note from the writer or the editor reminding someone to create “something” — a heading, followed by some text (copy).

I know it’s an honest mistake — but where are the proofers? I heard they don’t use any anymore. Because nearly no newspapers are using them, but isn’t that the last line of defense???? And one of the most important ones?

Then Creative Loafing this week on its cover — its cover, folks — has the name of a political candidate misspelled. It’s FEEHAN not Freehan! scan00021

I know they’re busier than one-armed paper hangers over there, but here’s the question:

When things are so tight and resources are so limited and people’s time and minds are so stretched thin that they miss three major lines of text on the front page of the business section or misspell something on the cover of the entire publication — what is that saying about what newspapers are doing to themselves? I know print media is suffering major slings and arrows right now, but do they have to throw them — with their own hands — at their own publications?

I know people say — they warn me all the time — that I shouldn’t nip at the hands that (occasionally) feed me (and my cats!), but somebody’s got to talk about this stuff.

This kind of thing might seem “small” — and these two or three instances are — but really, if we saw this kind of stuff happening in the corporate world or in the political world, heads would role for the people who make such, well, ultimately sloppy mistakes — even if they’re not necessarily the result of sloppiness but more of just plain overworkedness (and yes I know that’s not a word!).

Memo to both papers — I’m available as a proofreader! (and feverishly hoping there are no typos in this blog ’cause I’m running late for an appointment, gotta go, oh, wait that’s a typo!)……………………..

Posted on July 9th, 2010Comments RSS Feed
8 Responses to Local Papers Need Proofers!
  1. Stan Zimmerman
    July 9, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Proofreaders are the unsung heros of journalism. To my knowledge, there’s no award for fine proofreading, no recognition at any time of their unsung diligence every damn day, line by line. So “unsung” they are, they are disappearing.

    One ex-Tampa Trib writer quipped to me recently, they’ve fired their proofers because spell-check is so good. As if any spell-check will find “pubic” an error in the phrase “pubic good.” As a consequence, the paper is full of often-laughable typos. Which undermines public (note the “l”) confidence in the whole written-word concept.

    I cannot tell you the number of times proofreaders saved my credibility. Sometimes on deadline I’ll file stuff riddled with common and creative typos. Yes, I spell check with religiosity, but that only spots the obvious stuff. Syntax, verb-object agreement, capitalization, all the stuff we hated in English class is paramount in print. Making it all work according to rules of usage and grammar, I try but they fix. Anonymous, unseen and unsung. And indespensible. s/StanZ

    ps. Oops, “heads would role.” I can see the flush rising from your breast. Keep kickin’ ass, MC. We need it.

  2. write on (get it?) Stan the Man — thanks for catching role versus roll — i knew there’d be a cowboy somewhere out there to lasso a blunder if one was made in this blog — my “feverish” hopes notwithstanding …

    i love the word “religiosity” by the way, just as much as i love the word “idiocracy”

    anyway, leave it to the Man to call me out on my blog blunder first. thanks for restoring my hope in readers everywhere. (and i’ll do you one in return — the last word you wrote has an i instead of an e and if i’m not mistaken an a instead of an i. but i’m too tired to look it up … and i’ll bet you were too tired when you wrote it! 😉

    now, that’s not to say that i don’t make TONS of foolish errors all the time on this blog… i do, and yes, my breast flushes at the thought! 😉

    at midnight on a friday night, however, i’m wishing i was flushed for some other reason than a typo. 😉

    thanks for making me smile tonight. keep kickin’ it yourself.

  3. Hi Mary Catherine,

    “…a women whose husband…”

    Polygamy or typo – you be the judge. 😉


  4. Ellis jJ. Hoyt
    July 10, 2010 at 10:24 am

    The mystery is the word. What does SUMGRAF mean??????????? Please,anybody.

  5. Ellis — thanks for visiting the blog and adding to the discussion!

    I think — but hopefully someone will correct me if I’m wrong — that the editor or writer who wrote “sumgraf” meant “some graf” — “graf” I think being editorial lingo/shorthand for “paragraph”.

    If anyone else knows better, let us know!

  6. SUMGRAF, as according to Google: “Otro comercio al por menor no realizado ni en establecimientos, ni en puestos de venta ni en mercadillos”.

  7. TYPO!!!! sorry, Howard! Thanks for catching it. sheesh — good thing I’m not on the front page of a section of a daily newspaper with 100,000 readers, and owned by the Grey (or is it Gray) Lady herself…… :)

  8. Hi Mary Catherine,

    You have MUCH more to fear from the two legged rats than their four legged relations. You can spot the quads a mile a way. If only it were so easy with the bipeds, huh? Hey, keep that pot handy, it works on BOTH species. 😉

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