Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Today's gripe

I have little problem with readers who complain to me about grammatical mistakes that appear in the paper; mistakes are made, no matter what precautions we take, and errors are embarrassing and to be avoided. A regular segment of our monthly news department meetings is "Grammar Guy," in which I lecture my troops on such things as sentence structure, usage, rhetoric, syntax and spelling, and also pass along complaints from our readers.

What irks me, though, are comments like this one, which was written recently on a subscription form: "Spelling and sentence structure needs to be addressed." What needs to be addressed by the reader is agreement of subject and predicate. Her comment should read: "Spelling and sentence structure need to be addressed."

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

:) You mess with the bull--you get the horns!

Anonymous said...

Seems no one proofreads anymore...I see errors in both the O-R and Post-Gazette that a proof reader would have caught. Do papers rely solely on spell-check these days? (I know I have probably misspelled some words here!)

Park Burroughs said...

I'm often asked, "Don't you people have proof readers!?" No, we don't. Proof readers went out with, well, proofs. When we stopped sending our copy out to the back shop to be set by compositors, who then sent the proofs back - in other words, when computers came in - there were no proofs to be read. Suddenly, editors and writers had to not just write and edit, but set copy, fit it all into the pages and perform the tasks once done by proof readers.
Naturally, the quality of the copy declined. Speed and software have helped restore some of that quality, but we can't compete with a time when twice as many people were involved in the process.
Making matters worse has been the decline in emphasis on grammar and spelling in our education system since the 1970s.

Anonymous said...

ain't that tha truth?

Captain said...

Mistakes are made and we are not perfect....I often laugh at the quality of typos and such but agree that since our education system has often failed us as a society...it only makes sense to have these types of issues...