Tagged: Nathan Marsh Pusey

Tpyo feedback

On Wednesday I noted a typographical error that caused a local journal some embarrassment, only to acknowledge I was no one to talk, given the rising frequency of self- and auto-correct-induced typos that fill my keyboarding day. (See: Report a Tpyo button, above.)

Naturally, other journalists quickly jumped into the fray. Dan Bedell, the most meticulous copy editor I ever encountered, toiled for many years at the Canadian Press Bureau in Halifax.

Badell

Bedell

I hope the Chronicle Herald crew takes the award in stride and draws comfort from knowing it serves to remind all wordsmiths there should never be room for complacency. Anyone who’s been responsible for final content, especially in print media, feels their pain. You do your level best to review every page including headlines, editorial content and even the advertising, check it again, and have a second or even a third set of eyes look it over to be absolutely certain it is free of errors. Even when spell-check software attempts to sound the alert, you over-confidently click “ignore.”  Then the final product lands on your desk in print or goes live online and that glaring mistake slaps you in the face. And of course the entire world feels the need to point out the one error you inexplicably managed to miss.

Also, thanks for confirming that humour, not editorial sloppiness, is behind the misspelling in your “Report a Tpyo” link. However I hold fast to the belief that it originally was an error you have cleverly sidestepped by claiming it was always intentional.

The real story is better. Before Contrarian launched in the spring of 2009, computer smart guy Mike Target was putting the finishing touches on its template. At Doug MacKay’s suggestion, I asked him to add a “Report-a-Typo” link. When he sent back the draft template, I spotted what looked to be an error, and emailed him.

“Talk about irony,” I chortled, “You misspelled ‘typo!'”

“You idiot, that’s a joke,” he shot back.

I slapped my forehead, and the Report-a-Tpyo link survives to this day. Every once in a while, a gentle reader politely points out my “mistake.”

Ron Crocker writes:

My all-time fave typo appeared in the St. John’s (NL) Evening Telegram many years ago, when I was a cub reporter. I did not write the story myself, but almost wish I had. It probably appeared in October or November, but those of us who frequently drive the Trans-Canada Highway in Newfoundland know it could be almost any month except July. The lead went like this:

“A freak storm overnight left two inches of snot on the Trans Canada near St. John’s…”

There was damage to correct spelling, of course, but not much damage to accuracy.

These discussions always put me in mind of a story about Nathan Marsh Pusey, who served as president of Harvard University from 1953 to 1971. A contractor wanted to build a multi-story office tower over the top of Harvard Square—on stilts as it were. The aloof Mr. Pusey called a rare news conference to condemn the scheme. The student-run Harvard Crimson’s apocryphal headline:

Pusey Fights Erection in Square

Not exactly a typo, and to the best of my knowledge, it never actually found its way into print. But too good a story to let facts stand in the way.