Friday, October 10, 2008

Left: Washington, with beard. Right: Lincoln, with white-powdered hair

These iconic photos have been reproduced in thousands of American texbooks and are routinely used in classrooms across the land starting in about the seventh grade. During the last 50 years, the photos have appeared regularly in magazines and newspapers and today are posted on countless Web sites.

It took the Charlotte Sun to get them wrong. OK, so editors missed that day at school. But it didn't occur to anyone on the layout desk, on the copy editing desk or at page-proof time that the woman cradling a baby and flanked by children might be the mother.

Let's set the record straight and not further embarrass our fine Florida social studies teachers: Left: "Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange. Right: "Allie Mae Burroughs" by Walker Evans.

And while we're looking at the pretty pictures ....

"Growing in the sand: One of the main characters in the novel "Jurassic Park" is fond of saying "life will find a way" in explaining how wrong things can happen when scientists start tinkering with the DNA of dinosaurs. These beach grasses prove that statement correct. They have found a way to take root and grow even in the midst of miles of sandy beach."

Let's ignore that the photographer isn't telling readers where, when or why he took the photo and forgive that the photo editor and the layout editor are not about to ask him.

Instead, let's try to figure out why the editor thinks a pop-culture reference to "how wrong things can happen" when "scientists start tinkering with the DNA of dinosaurs" explains Florida native sea oats growing in their natural habitat.

Meanwhile, in local news ...

"...I'm cluing you in about two new local locations ..." -- columnist Joe Gallimore.

"Local man protests code enforcement" -- headline writer.

"... local Arcadia resident ..." -- editor's note about children's story writer.

And one more thing: We're getting used to the Sun's strange habit of using British spelling (humour, colour, etc.) in stories about Canada. But today's state-page photo has nothing to do with Canada. "Endeavour" isn't listed in the desk's dictionary as an acceptable second spelling. The word's not used in the text of the cutline. But there it is. Eh?

1 comment:

  1. If the Federal Aviation Administration was granted authority tomorrow to oversee and inspect the newsxpaper industry as they do the airlines, Sun Coast Media Group would be grounded as a clear and present danger to readers.
    Thank God these guys started a newspaper chain and not an airline. At least their constant mistakes don't kill people, yet.
    Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans may come back to life to demand a correction, which I wonder if SCMG will even bother to run.