or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Yesterday morning, Jim and I had breakfast out--a New Year's tradition we happily continue, since we don't engage in drunken revels the night before and so aren't hung over and miserable. (I'm not smug about this; it's just that we're not especially social people, and probably boring into the bargain, and were in bed by 10:30.) The restaurant was one of those places that has newspapers to read while you're waiting for your food to arrive, so I picked up a copy of the Globe and Mail--always a mistake--and looked over the front page. At the bottom was a sad, awful story about a woman who fell asleep at the wheel on Highway 401 in Toronto and killed two people, one of whom was her father.

The Globe and Mail had the following sentence in the second paragraph:

Ms. Chen's father was on of the victims, and she now faces twin charges of dangerous driving causing death.

Not "one of the victims". "On of the victims". And that is shameful.

Sometimes I feel as if I have no sense of proportion about such errors. It's only a tiny typo! These things happen, especially when people are putting out a paper on New Year's Eve! It doesn't matter in the greater scheme of things!

But then I realize that I don't care how disproportionate my anger is; I feel it anyway, and the more so because the Globe and Mail has pretensions to be Canada's National Newspaper and yet slaps a typo on the front page (and, I have no doubt, has others inside; I never seem to be able to pick it up without finding some). It's infuriating because it's symptomatic of something bigger. A newspaper which doesn't employ proofreaders--as this one clearly doesn't, because the mistake would have made it through a spellchecker intact--doesn't care about its readers. It has no interest in making sure that its product is readable and accurate. It cares only about making sure that its advertisers are satisfied.

And what's a reader to think? That this is a newspaper that can't even get right a little thing such as the spelling of the word "one". How on earth is the reader to have any confidence that the bigger things, the ones that indisputably do matter, are also right?

It is a small problem, yes, but indicative of greater ones, and it is a disgrace.


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