Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Siriusly Bad Spelling

Just because the Proofreader is behind the wheel of his car doing 85 m.p.h. on the highway doesn't mean he's not on the lookout for printed mistakes. Know that he risked life, limb and a traffic ticket to bring you this holiday-themed mistake.

It's a little blurry since the picture was taken with a cell phone held by one hand, but, as you can see highlighted above, it's a mistake made by Sirius XM Radio. Sirius XM likes to call regular radio "terrestrial," so, perhaps, this is an extra-terrestrial spelling blunder.

Notice that Christmas was erroneously spelled "Chirstmas" by the data entry guy at Sirius XM who enters song titles into its database. If Christmas was too long a word or presented too much of a potential for typos, maybe he should've gone with the famous and shorter Xmas variant.

The song playing was The Beach Boys' version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and please be assured that the arrangement of this Christmas classic was every bit as bad (if not worse) than you'd expect The Beach Boys to have made it. Not only was it a mistake to have typed the title the way it was typed, but it was a mistake for someone to have ever made a recording of The Beach Boys' version and another mistake for someone to have played it.

Earlier this year, Sirius XM was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, leaving the company, evidently, unable to afford competent proofreaders.

The Proofreader wishes everyone a Happy New Year! He'll see you in 2010 with more printed mistakes that never should've been made.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lots of Gibberish In Story About Fat-Drinking Commercial

Which is more disgusting: The newly-released commercial by the New York City Health Department, or the sloppy copy in a news story about the commercial? In the commercial, a man is shown guzzling a glass of what is supposed to be fat, the health department's not-so-subtle way of denouncing gluttonous soda drinking. In the article published on the Web site of WCBS local news in New York, there's an instance of what appears to be a typo that resulted in gibberish in the seventh graph and then, in the second-to-last graph, there's just plain gibberish.

As you can see highlighted in the screen shot above, WCBS combined the words "the" and "obesity" to create "thobesity." Sorry, WCBS. That's not a recognized portmanteau. Highlighted in the below screen shot, WCBS uses "widash" in the middle of a sentence. Wait, what? Having never seen widash used earnestly as a word before, the Proofreader looked it up and couldn't find an entry for it in several credible online dictionaries.

To make sure WCBS wasn't getting all highbrow in a story with a lowbrow hook, the Proofreader consulted Jesse Sheidlower, editor-at-large of the OED and author of The F-Word. If widash is some brand-new or ├╝ber-obscure word, Sheidlower would know and he says it isn't. In an e-mail message, he writes that widash "seems pretty clearly to be a typo or some artifact of the publication process, rather than any new word or even a thinko of some kind."

As for which is more disgusting, perhaps it's a toss-up. Click here to see the commercial of the guy drinking a glass of fat.

The Proofreader thanks Jesse Sheidlower.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Typos In Coverage of Tiger Woods Scandal

The Proofreader is trying to keep up with the women in the Tiger Woods scandal, but simply cannot. At the latest count, twelve women have allegedly had affairs with the golfing great. That's three more women since the last post. To counter the additional three women, the Proofreader has only found two additional mistakes, and they're minor typos, to bring the total to five errors. It's turned into a runaway by Woods's women.

As you can see highlighted in the above screen shot from this tawdry CBS News blog, there is an erroneous pluralization of the word "email." The mistake could've been remedied in one of two ways: By removing the S to make "emails" singular; or by deleting addresses--but doing that would compromise some of the sentence's clarity.

And, highlighted in the below screen shot from The Baltimore Sun's Web site is the wrong form of the indefinite article "a"; it's written as "an" instead.

Find any other printed mistakes in the Tiger Woods coverage? E-mail the Proofreader.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A.P. Story Screws Up A.P. Style

Midwest correspondent Stan Kost e-mailed the Proofreader earlier this week inquiring about a usage of the abbreviation "vs." in an A.P. article he'd read on The New York Post's Web site. "In paragraph five, is it appropriate to abbreviate 'versus' when quoting someone?" asked Kost in the message. "It looked a bit awkward when I saw that," he added.

It looks awkward because abbreviating the word versus in the body of an article is a deviation from ordinary A.P. Style. For writing purposes, the Proofreader typically adheres to New York Times style and, therefore, doesn't own an A.P. Stylebook. So, the Proofreader consulted journalist Carly Baldwin, a writer for Metro New York newspaper, for enlightening on A.P. Style.

In an e-mail message, Baldwin wrote the Proofreader and noted what an odd favor he was asking of her. Then, she quoted the following directly from her 2003 A.P. Stylebook:
Versus should be spelled out in ordinary style and writing. "The proposal to revamp Medicare, versus cuts to Medicare ...."

In short expressions, however, vs. is permitted: "The issue of guns vs. butter has long been with us."

For court cases, use v. "Marbury v. Madison."
Given that the abbreviation appeared in a 29-word quote, it's probably safe to say that the word should've been spelled out, a minor mistake to be sure, but a mistake nonetheless.

The Proofreader thanks Stan Kost for submitting the mistake and Carly Baldwin.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another Mistake In Coverage of Woods Drama

As the number of women claiming to have mounted Tiger Woods continues to, uh, mount, so does the number of mistakes made in the coverage of the scandal. So far, the official tallies: Nine mistresses linked to Woods; three mistakes in the frenzy of media coverage caught by the Proofreader.

As you can see above, this article from the ABC News Web site, about porn star Holly Sampson and pancake waitress Mindy Lawton being the eighth and ninth women to publicly join the Woods harem, is missing a word. While recounting the claims of an alleged Tiger Woods mistress, ABC News omitted the word "other." Rather than "...regularly saw each for sex," the phrase should read "...regularly saw each other for sex." Yeah, it's a stupid mistake, no doubt, which was probably made in the haste to stay out in front of this labyrinthine story, but it's a mistake nevertheless.

Folks, the Proofreader needs help in evening out the numbers here. As it stands now, there are many more alleged Woods mistresses than there are found mistakes in the coverage of the drama. If you notice any printed mistakes in the Woods drama coverage, please e-mail the Proofreader directly.

The good news is: The Proofreader is leading 3-2 in the less glorious mistakes-to-waitress ratio. Three mistakes (two in one article by Slate and the above mistake by ABC News) to one cocktail waitress and one pancake waitress. It's interesting how the media are classifying the waitresses in this soap opera with such exact specificity. Perhaps they know that still more waitresses (who serve specific things besides cocktails and pancakes) are waiting to divulge their affairs with Tiger Woods to them.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dubious Anniversary At Gray Lady and Sun-Times

Today is the 20th anniversary of a copy mistake made in the Sports section of The New York Times, which has gone undetected by Times' editors and staff these many years. In an article dated December 4, 1989 and titled "SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Aggravating Is Kind Word," there exists a small, but somewhat significant error.

The mistake appears in the first line of the article's fourth paragraph of the online version; it was probably the third paragraph in the paper back in 1989, but the Proofreader has, as of yet, been unable to obtain a hard copy of that. Ironically, the mistake occurs one line after the New York Football Giants' quarterback Phil Simms is quoted as having asked reporters, "On the mess ups? Is that what you want?"

Regardless of what whomever wanted, a mess-up is what was printed next and it is highlighted for you in the screen shots above. Notice the phrase "after Bob Golic's sack" in line one of paragraph four. Readers with proficient attention to detail skills will recognize the error. While Bob Golic has appeared in many different things, most amusing among them Saved By The Bell: The College Years, he never appeared in the N.F.L. game played at the Meadowlands between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants on December 3, 1989. Several credible Internet sources confirm that at no time during his professional football career did Bob Golic occupy a roster spot on the Philadelphia Eagles. Furthermore, several sources listing the Eagles' 1989 roster also confirm that Bob Golic never played in an N.F.L. game for the Eagles that year.

So, how'd the mistake happen if Bob Golic never played for the Eagles? Most likely, it was a mix-up with his younger brother Mike Golic, who you will notice was on the Eagles' roster in 1989. Mike Golic is now an ESPN radio and T.V. personality. Interesting how professional sportswriters and editors are able to make a mistake like this, which kind of undermines the integrity of the story. Bob Golic played for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1989 and played in this game on December 3rd of that year.

The Gray Lady isn't the only newspaper celebrating the dubious anniversary today. The Times' Windy City colleagues at The Chicago Sun-Times should also be popping a little bubbly today because they made the mistake too, unearthed via and highlighted below. Wait, the same obscure mistake on the same day? How'd that happen?

It's difficult to speculate so long after the fact, but one guess is, given the news cycle in those days, a writer at the Sun-Times read the story in The New York Times and then spit out a reconstituted version of events which included the error. If that is the genesis of the second mistake, it's too bad the writer didn't read another story in The Times that day, which correctly accounted for Mike Golic's play in the game.

Raise a glass for a great printed mistake that should've never been made!

This post was originally published on December 4, 2008.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Minor Typos In Slate Article about Tiger Woods/Salahi Scandals

The Tiger Woods and Salahi Whitehouse party-crashing scandals are two stories that, like a certain credit card company slogan, defiantly refuse to go away. Thus, the more that's written about them, the greater the likelihood of a copy mistake. Behold two minor typos in a story on Slate (that married the two scandals in an effort to explain their persistence in the social consciousness) highlighted for your convenience in the screen shots below:

 In the second paragraph, the word "woman" should've been written in its plural form, "women." No doubt a small typo, but notable because Slate is typically the model of impeccable copy editing.

Further down, in the article's epilogue, there is a space missing in "one-thirdof." The space, obviously, should've been placed between third and of.

These can't have been the only printed mistakes that shouldn't have been made in the coverage of these two stories, but they are the only two the Proofreader has found. Notice one? E-mail a screen shot of it to the Proofreader.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Copy Foul In A.P. Coverage of Iverson Signing With 76ers Story

N.B.A. malcontent Allen Iverson is always a lightning rod for media attention. So, it's no surprise that after announcing his retirement last week, then abruptly coming out of retirement this week to sign with his original team, the media are scrambling the fighter jets to be the first to break the story. As is often the case, that careless haste leads to copy mistakes.

This time the venerable A.P. is at fault for a copy foul. As you can see highlighted in the screen shot above, the second to last paragraph of this A.P. story on asserts that Iverson has a career average of 27 points and 6.2 points. Well, which is it?

Iverson's career points-per-game average is 27.0. Over his career he's averaged 6.2 assists per game.

Evidently, mistakes in the Iverson saga are not merely limited to the Philadelphia 76ers, who have erred by signing the fallen star. Even media coverage of Iverson has been mistake-riddled. This guy just brings out the worst in everyone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 Bungles Headline With Unnecessary Apostrophe has made mistakes in the past and is likely to make mistakes in the future, but the Proofreader will probably not know about these future mistakes. That is, unless sharp-eyed readers inform him of the blunders. Why? recently placed its content behind a pay wall and there's no way the Proofreader will be shelling out money to see repeated copy errors committed by professional editors.

So, how'd he get this one?

A careful reader sent it to the Proofreader, that's how. Also, it's from September 2nd, well before the pay wall was initiated. The reader, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote in an e-mail message, " made a nice apostrophe screw-up in an article about the Mets; I figured you'd enjoy it. They've since fixed the error, but not before I got a screen capture of it!  Enjoy."

Enjoy (mocking it) we shall, anonymous reader. Notice the unnecessary apostrophe highlighted in the screen shot above. We've seen this type of slipshod proofreading before from the editorial staff over at The question is: Will we ever see it again?

Ever see copy mistakes that never should've been made? Take a screen shot and e-mail it to the Proofreader.

The Proofreader thanks the Anonymous Reader for submitting the mistake.