Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Law of Averages "Times" Two

VOL. CLVIII..No. 54,538 (or the December 28, 2008 edition) of The New York Times contains at least two mistakes, both small typos, buried amongst its copious pages. One can be found in the Sunday Business section and another in the accompanying issue of The New York Times Magazine. As of this posting, both mistakes are available online and both were printed in the hard copies of the newspaper and magazine.

On page six of the Business section, in the continuation of a feature titled "Satellite Radio Still Reaches for the Payday," a typo exists in the 21st paragraph, first line, second word. On the Web site, you can find it on the story's second page, in the eleventh paragraph. It's highlighted in both the picture from the newspaper and the screen shot from the Web site below.

The copy reads, "So if would be unfair to compare us to a newspaper business..." Now, this is a tricky one because, at a glance, it seems obvious the text was meant to read, "So it would be unfair..."

rather than if.

But the apparent typo exists inside of quotation marks; the sentence was a quote attributed to Sirius Chief Executive Mel Karmazin. So, did Mr. Karmazin misspeak or did The Times misprint?

The Times misprinted. According to an e-mail message from a senior editor in The Times' Public Editor's office, "It was indeed a typo. The word should have been 'it.'" So, how'd the typo evade copy editors? The senior editor explains, "Given that we publish more than one million staff-written words a week, these typos are certain to get through." In other words, it's the law of averages.

The law of averages struck again on page 33 of "The Lives They Lived" issue of The Times Magazine. The article is a memorial for Tim Russert, the late moderator of Meet The Press. If you adjust your view to the third line of the first paragraph in the second column on page 33 and the third line of the eighth paragraph online, you'll notice the sentence lacks the preposition "of."

As you can see in the picture above and the screen shot below, the copy reads, "...admonition to hotel guests not to sleep on the side the bed where the telephone..." Clearly, the word "of" should have appeared between "side" and "the" in that sentence. Again, another small mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.


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