Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Real Editors Check the Math

When running a shoestring operation, it seems there's no time to check facts or do math. This morning's rant (Letters to the Editor) comes from a guy who slipped a couple of digits but no one on the newspaper's editorial or copy desks bothered to check. Incensed by "bailout funding," our citizen-watchdog claims he "sat down with a pencil and paper and divided 1 trillion by 300 million (the country's population) and calculated $30,000 plus for every man, woman and child in this country." Sorry Bud. That would be $3,333. This simple math error has been circulating in e-mails and blog rants for going on six months now. But no one at the Sun noticed -- or bothered to count the zeroes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Editor's Job Opening: Reading Not Required

The story is about a couple who provides foster care for newborns and infants recently taking in their 100th child. The headline kicks it off: "100 and counting." Strangely, the copy desk editor couldn't be bothered to read deeply enough into the story (like the first sentence) to learn the couple is counting babies, not birthdays, before writing the fiction: "Foster parents hit century mark." No, they are 75 years young, as the expression goes. It's the Sun copy desker who has reached early senility.

Editors who read might help with faulty modifiers in the lede and elsewhere, as well. Instead, readers are giggling because instead of focusing on a child and his dirtbike, they encounter the all-seeing smile that ate the landscape:
While gazing across the five-acre track at Charlotte BMX Sunday, a smile spread across 11-year-old Ryan Nenno's face. Grammatically, it's the spreading smile that's gazing across the track.