Oops! – updated

The Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism school respected in the industry for promoting  “the kind of journalism that enables us to participate fully and effectively in our democracy,” has issued its annual awards for best and worst media errors and corrections of the year. Nova Scotia did not escape the list.

The Halifax Chronicle-Herald won Typo of the Year for this published account of its own success at the Atlantic Journalism Awards:

“It’s always notable when a paper misspells its own name,” the Poynter judges said. “It’s even more notable when a paper misspells its own name in an article celebrating recent awards for journalistic excellence.”

I’m definitely in the glass-house-dwelling stone-thrower category here, since I make 400+ typos a day,  far too many of which find their way into Contrarian. Alert readers make frequent use of the drolly named “Report a Tpyo” button at the top of this page, and I am continually grateful to them.

Still, the Herald blooper is funny, in an embarrassing sort of way, and I hope my friends there will take my re=posting re-posting it in a collegial, there-but-for-the-grace-of-obscurity sort of way. The Poynter Awards collection offered amusing, cautionary, and instructive insight into the journalism as practiced today — definitely worth a look.

Lastly, belated congratulations to Herald staffers John DeMont, Ian Thompson, Deborah Wiles, Jayson Taylor, Matt Dempsey, Christian Laforce, and Bruce MacKinnon for producing the work that won the six awards celebrated in this ill-fated story. It’s quite a haul.


Peter Barss writes:

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 8.31.51 AM

 Well, maybe not exactly large, but broken for sure. You see what I mean?

Chicago’s hidden poetry

The Chicago Manual of Style, grand dame of copydesk styleguides, has published its 16th edition, but Ed Park, writing at Bookforum.com, recalls the 14th fondly:

Though I never read the book cover to cover, the Chicago Manual of Style took up a lot of brain space during my copyediting years. Section headings suggested good titles for poems or chapters: “Mistaken Junction” (5.63), the vertiginous “Words Used as Words” (6.76). Ostensibly a reference work, it was really a form of secret potent literature, offering some of the challenges and unconventional pleasures of the sort of doorstop-shaped fiction I was consuming back then anyway.

Chicago’s examples could be recondite or mischievously witty or of a weirdly resonant blandness. You could be boning up on the proper use of brackets (section 5.129) and be hit with quotes like this:

During a prolonged visit to Australia, Glueck and an assistant (James Green, who was later to make his own study of a flightless bird [the kiwi] in New Zealand) spent several difficult months observing the survival behavior of cassowaries and emus.

You’d feel an urge to procrastinate, to follow these intrepid antipodean emu watchers, but alas: The sadistic authors of the fourteenth knew that less is more.

Where did these fragments come from? What did they mean? Sometimes there would be a message just for me. On late nights while I waited for proofs to materialize, I would think of the poem disguised as 5.136, which asks the reader to “consider the range of expressiveness achieved by the following changes in punctuation”:

Go home.
Go home!
Go home?
Go home?!

The comment section has a useful note on atomic typos.