Do you ever get the impression that the media lie to you? Well — despite the fact I’ve toiled in the trade for a goodly chunk of my adult life – they do. It seems more than ever these days.
Not necessarily intentionally, but sometimes they make mistakes. I know that for a fact. I have even made mistakes in some of the stories I’ve filed over the years. And, once it’s pointed out it becomes one of those “oh, shit!” moments in a person’s professional life. Well, it’s not brain-surgery. What I am saying is that the most you can do is completely destroy a person’s reputation and that could lead to disgrace, marriage bustup, possible suicide. Hey, it can happen but if my intentions were honest, what do I care?
Meanwhile, as reporters make factual gaffes in stories, and editors (increasingly, it seems) fail to find them, there are always those who feel it is their bounden duty to point out the transgressions of scribes.
These are the folks who write letters to the editor raging against a misplaced modifier, or a run-on sentence. I say, ‘screw them’. “You think it’s so easy, then you come in and write the prose of Henry James whilst bucking a deadline that ran out 10 minutes earlier.”
We once got a letter from a woman who was a schoolteacher, who decried our misuse of something or other, and furthermore noted what disgraces we were in our flagrant abuses of contemporary usage. As I was letters editor at the time, I couldn’t resist replying on the editorial page. I stated that while I appreciated her astute observation of our transgression, her first paragraph contained the longest run-on sentence that had surely ever been penned in the English language.
We heard no more from her on any subject from that point. Bitch.
Anyway, as the language has deteriorated (and in that I’d like to reference my aforementioned picky schoolteacher and blame the schools – I can do that, since I was once a teacher) and we must accept that reality in this post-literate age of text messaging and all that crap, I suppose, I actually find myself becoming more concerned about factual errors in information that purports to tell the truth, while what is being stated is pure tosh.
Say, howsabout that for one of them run-on sentences?
Anyway, in terms of journalist lies, tarradiddles, and pig-ignorance disguised as veracity, you now can find help. Check out the site http://www.regrettheerror.com/ and you will be set straight. This is great fun, since it is a resource that scrutinizes the world’s media – print and electronic – and itemizes the errors. Interestingly, the staid New York Times definitely comes up wanting more often than should make any publisher comfortable.
But, the world of today is a mass of information, and so much of it is ill-founded, it is good to have an organization that has set its mind to at least trying to set the record straight.
I said at the outset, I had made the odd error in my career, but not many. More fun for me was arguably a couple of the headline gaffes that were a result of my creative efforts, and for which I actually won ‘inappropriate headline awards.’
One concerned a competition in which good citizens were asked to nominate neighbors who were good and helpful citizens, and the best entries would win a prize. At the end of a long and tiring day, I wrote, while trying to be poetic:
‘Why not enter thy neighbor?’
The other concerns a town a few miles to the south of us that has (for a reason best known to them) a gigantic replica hockey stick next to the local arena It was quite a while in the making. I wrote the headline:
‘Giant stick nears erection’
Not my department, but we once ran an ad pertaining to a local eatery called Rosie’s Pantry, and then offered the business the following: ‘Box Lunches at Rosie’s Panty.’