Friday, December 19, 2008

Four For One Sloppy Copy In Blagojevich Coverage

There's no question the surname of Illinois' governor is neither easy to pronounce nor easy to spell and The New York Times bungled the spelling today on its Web site, two days after The Connecticut Post made the same mistake and almost a week after The Los Angeles Times did. On the other hand, the title of his office, "governor," shouldn't present a pronunciation or spelling challenge to journalists. Yet it has, at a T.V. news station in Chicago.

On the Web site of CBS2 in Chicago, news writers managed to misspell "governor." In the second line of the article's first paragraph, just under a deck where it's spelled correctly, the word is spelled "govenror," as you can see in the screen shot below. The error appears to be a typo probably made by one of three individuals at CBS2 or someone at the Associated Press, all of whom are credited with contributing to the report. But CBS2 copy editors should've have caught the blunder.

Over at The Times, writers messed up the governor's funny-sounding last name, spelling it "Blogojevich" in the fourth line of this article's second paragraph, after having spelled it correctly twice, once in the headline and once in the opening line of the story and then many times afterward and in other articles. The mistake, also likely a typo, is highlighted in the screen shot below for your viewing convenience.

The Times isn't the only newspaper to misspell the beleaguered governor's name. Yep, the Connecticut Post also spelled it "Blogojevich" on its Web site in the headline of an article dated December 17, 2008 before spelling it correctly several times in the body of the article.

Haven't had your fill? On the west coast, The L.A. Times made the error in a December 13th article on its Web site. As you can see, in the highlighted screen shot below, The L.A. Times bungled the spelling once in the headline and twice in the deck, before getting it right several times in the body of the article.

How the hell do these mistakes happen? One reason is that, at The L.A. Times, copy editors (who are supposed to catch the mistakes, not make them) write the headlines, which accounts for the various spellings in the headline, deck and body. A similar process is probably employed at most newspapers and their Web sites. What's unexplainable and inexcusable is that the mistakes on the Connecticut Post and L.A. Times Web sites remain uncorrected days after publication.

For the other two blunders, the Internet is partly to blame, because news outlets are racing to beat each other in breaking news online. But basic proofreading shouldn't be compromised for breaking news. These are all mistakes that never should've happened.

No comments: