2/09/2008

All Mr. Rewrite asks: just a little more care



The YouTube funny above has been in Mr. Rewrite's mailbox for several weeks now. It's good to know that people are fighting the good fight, camcorders at the ready. Here's everything else that's been piling up ...

A) Three cheers for the eagle-eyed onlookers, as documented by the Salt Lake Tribune, who pointed out that a plaque made to adorn the burial vault of Gordon B. Hinckley misspelled his name as Hinkley. "No harm, no foul," the newspaper says. While searching Google News for media misspellings of Hinckley's name, Mr. Rewrite was taken aback to see this on top of the list: the headline on a Salt Lake Tribune interview with Hinckley, presented as part of its coverage of his death:


The headline is correct on the Tribune's site, so Mr. Rewrite isn't sure what's happening here. But hey, no harm no foul.

B) Mr. Rewrite has thought long and hard about this perspectives piece from the Howard University paper. The author blames the spell-check functions in Microsoft Word and other programs for students not being able to spell or construct proper sentences. While he applauds the idea behind this piece, Mr. Rewrite thinks blaming spell check doesn't begin to address the causes. Mr. Rewrite has long suspected that the real problem lies with people not reading much -- books, newspapers, magazines, anything -- and not writing much. As a society, we worsen those problems by not holding children's writing to high standards. The route to grammar hell is lined with billboards saying, "It's the IDEA that counts." Proper spelling, grammar and sentence construction come from practice, constructive criticism and exposure to good writing. You can't simply flip a "writing switch" after growing up without reading regularly and without writing much beyond "OMG - RUOK?"

C) Here's yet another article about Regret The Error, the book based on the blog by journalist Craig Silverman. Both chronicle media mistakes. Since he's never made an error, Mr. Rewrite finds this concept fascinating.

D) At a recent news conference, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said the news media:
  1. "... write about stuff that don't really matter to people." (Chicago Tribune)
  2. "... write about stuff that doesn't really matter to people." (Chicago Sun-Times)
Mr. Rewrite enjoyed the Tribune's take on what happened.

E) The San Diego Union-Tribune's reader rep outlines that paper's most common errors in this column. The biggest disappointment, she says, is errors in names and titles. At the U-T, these account for about a third of the corrections. "What really irks readers and distresses journalists is that so many simple errors could be avoided with just a little more care," she says. "No mistake is a good mistake, but the most preventable ones are surely the worst."

That's all Mr. Rewrite wants from each of you: just a little more care.

F) Mr. Rewrite's
Valentine's Day Apostrophe Confusion Watch (TM) stood at 950 misspellings as of this morning. As he's mentioned, many in the media spell it Valentines Day, leaving out the apostrophe.


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