Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Two All-Beef Panties ... Errors to Hoot Over

A site called RegretTheError.com posted its picks for errors of the year here.

I actually liked some of its "other" favorites, such as:

From the Chicago Tribune:
An editorial in Friday’s paper incorrectly stated that Florida Cresswell, a candidate for state representative in the 28th District, was convicted in 1999 of battery and stealing Tupperware. In fact he was convicted of stealing a battery from a van as well as Tupperware that was inside the van.

From The New York Times:
A film review on Wednesday about “Little Miss Sunshine” referred incorrectly to contestants in the fictional children’s beauty pageant of the title. The critic intended to compare the contestants to underage prostitutes, not to “underage fleshpots.”

From The Oregonian:
A headline on Page One on Saturday should have made clear that Oregon Health & Science University will be studying the effects of meth, not cooking it.

From the Los Angeles Times:
A listing in Sunday Calendar said hot dogs would not be allowed at the Scandinavian Autumn Fest and Marknad on Sept. 17 at Vasa Park in Agoura. No canines will be allowed at the event.

Typo of the Year
The reigning champ in this category is Reuters for its report of the recall of "beef panties":
Quaker Maid Meats Inc. said Tuesday it would voluntarily recall 94,400 pounds of frozen ground beef panties that may be contaminated with E. coli.

Have you seen or heard about any doozies? Please share them here.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bah, Humbug! 'Tis the Season for Those Cliches!

John McIntyre, The Baltimore Sun's assistant managing editor for the copy desk and a past president of the American Copy Editors Society, writes a blog that looks at issues of language and writing, particularly grammar and usage, as they come up in The Sun's reporting. Here's a link to his main site:
I would like to reprint one of the articles he posted there (in early November), having to do with those tired holiday cliches. Do you have any other cliches to add to his list? Post them here.

Still no prisons? Still no workhouses?
Halloween may be just past and Guy Fawkes day tomorrow, but already the holiday catalogs clutter the mailbox and Christmas merchandise creeps onto the shelves. So before the impulse to use prefabricated phrases can overpower the unsteady hand, here is a reminder from The Sun’s in-house policy on holiday cliches to eschew. This list, compiled by Sun copy editors and colleagues in the American Copy Editors Society, appeared as the third posting of this blog and was also published in an earlier form on the Poynter Institute’s Web site under the title "Avoid holiday cliches."

"’Tis the season": Not in copy, not in headlines, not at all. Never, never, never, never, never. You cannot make this fresh. Do not attempt it. "’Twas the night before" anything: 'Twasing is no more defensible than ’tising. (And if you must refer to the Rev. Mr. Moore's poem, if indeed he wrote it, the proper title is "A Visit from St. Nicholas.")

"Jolly old elf": Please, no. And if you must use Kriss Kringle, remember the double s.

Any "Christmas came early" construction.

"Yes, Virginia" allusions: No.

"Grinch steals": When someone vandalizes holiday decorations, steals a child's toys from under the tree, or otherwise dampens holiday cheer, this construction may be almost irresistible. Resist it.

Give Dickens a rest. No ghosts of anything past, present or future.

Delete bah and humbug from your working vocabulary. Treat Scrooge as you would the Grinch, i.e., by ignoring him.

"Turkey and all the trimmings": If you can't define trimmings without looking up the word, you shouldn't be using it.

"White stuff" for snow: We should have higher standards of usage than do television weather forecasters. Also avoid the tautologies favored by these types: winter season, weather conditions, winter weather conditions, snow event and snow precipitation.

And the tautologies favored in advertising: free gift, extra bonus and extra added bonus.

Old Man Winter, Jack Frost and other moldy personifications can safely be omitted. If the spirit of ecumenism and inclusion requires mention of Hanukkah in holiday articles, these points should be kept in mind. Hanukkah is a holiday more like Independence Day than Christmas, and it is only the coincidence of the calendar dates in a gentile culture that has caused the holiday to mimic Christian and secular elements. The holidays are coincidental; they are not twins.

Pray do not ring out or ring in an old year, a new year, or anything else.

Parodies of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" are, if possible, even more tedious than the original.

Some readers (and, sadly, some writers) lap up this swill. It is familiar, and the complete lack of originality is a comfort. It is for such people that television exists.

Winners or Sinners??

Greetings everyone,

I'm back from vacation, so I'd like to start posting here. I'll raise issues, make comments and pass along information. But I do want to stress that any comments I do make are my own opinions, not official pronouncements for the desk. I hope you will join in and add your remarks and thoughts on various issues.

I'll begin by passing along an e-mail message I received from Timm Herdt. He in turn was passing along an e-mail he received from a reader.

It had not occurred to me before that it might be inaccurate to say that someone "won" a medal of valor. But after reading this e-mail, I thought the reader had a very good point.

I'd like to know what you all think about this reader's comments. Is it wrong to say someone "wins" a medal of valor, something they didn't compete for? Or do you think it's so much an accepted part of speech to say someone won a medal or commendation that it's acceptable use?

Please add your comments to this posting.



Subject: FW: Traffic Officer Valor Article

Patricia, FYI, I pass along a note from a reader. My view is that he has a decent point; "winners" carries the connotation that the recipients were actually competing, as in the Academy Awards or something. These medals acknowledge valor in the face of danger; no one actually sets out to"win" one. A small point, perhaps, but I think a worthy one. -- Timm

-----Original Message-----
From: wgherbert@adelphia.net
To: therdt@VenturaCountyStar.com
Sent: 11/30/2006 7:59 PM
Subject: Traffic Officer Valor Article
Timm: This is not meant to be a slam on your journalist abilities. My comment about the article, and several before in the Star (Not necessarily yours...) has to do with the headline on page A8. Police officers do not "win" medals for valor. They certainly don't compete for the recognition. The choice of "Winners" might better have been awardees, recipients or even honorees. I'm sure there are several other choices, but not "Winners."
Cheers, Bill Herbert 642-4436 Ventura
------ End of Forwarded Message