Saturday, June 6, 2009

Regrettable errors

I have to admit that I have a morbid fascination with corrections in newspapers. I've had to run a few corrections of my own, but it's more fun when other editors mess up.

I've been getting my corrections fix with the blog Regret the Error, in which editor Craig Silverman keeps track of corrections run by newspapers. It's obvious there was a lot of regret going around.

The New York Times, according to Silverman, has misspelled Procter & Gamble and offered corrections more than 100 times. They spelled it Proctor & Gamble. Perhaps they should make a list of similar corrections for their copy-desk staff.

Silverman pointed out that a newspaper column in another newspaper said that a man was one of the great dead economists. Unfortunately, the report of his death was greatly exaggerated.

Another column said that a particular type of T-shirt was selling 100 shirts a minute. The correction amended that to 100 shirts per hour. Totally different.

Yet another newspaper ran a column in which someone in the Virginia gubernatorial primary described himself as a huckster. The correction said the word should have been hustler. Major oops.

Yes, it's good to check your copy. About 300 times.

Most unique: The Editor's Desk blog recently posted on most unique. The blogger points out that by the beginning of the 17th century unique meant “single, sole” and “having no equal.” Then by the mid-19th century unique had developed a wider meaning, “not typical, unusual.”

For what it's worth, the Associated Press Stylebook maintains that “unique” still means one of a kind. AP says: “Do not describe something as rather unique, most unique or very unique.”

I've discussed this before: I believe that unique says it all.

Other blogs to check out: You might try The Grammar Vandal. In his most recent post, the Vandal offers an embarrassing example of getting you're and your mixed up. ... Heads Up takes the reader through an actual edit of a story. That's something I'll do from time to time.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

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