Some people sing with the voices of angels. Some people run long distances quickly. Some people coach athletic teams to win, season after season. Me, I see typos. As several of my previous Wordless Wednesday posts attest, many letters are being written on objects that do not move while perfectly good letter-writing paper goes unused. Thank goodness Mrs. Bowen, my sixth grade teacher, gave us students the hint that “stationary” has an “a” in its last three letters to remind us of an “anchor,” something that remains still. “Stationery,” on the other hand, is used for writing letters.
My nickname at Healthy Kids has been “The Big Green Pen” for many years now. Because I use a green felt-tip pen when I edit letters, and because I am, to put it mildly, generous with the green ink, the nickname is permanent and has become my identity on Twitter (@biggreenpen) and among my proofreading/copyediting clients.
There are a few of us at the office who enjoy language, and appreciate language used with precision and care. Therefore, when I see something egregious (like the recent “Flordia”), I send out a quick email with a “Big Green Pen Challenge.” When my coworker, Niki Pocock, participated in the most recent “Big Green Pen Challenge,” she included in her response a link to a blog by Bob Gabordi, Executive Editor of the Tallahassee Democrat, in which Bob discusses why answering his phone is always an adventure. As part of his blog, when he refers to a caller who questioned whether the Democrat still utilizes proofreaders, he wrote:
Losing those people huddled in the back proofreading pages was part of the price we paid for technology. These days, newspaper pages go straight from the newsroom’s computers to metal plates that go on the press. Fewer eyes are looking for typos and minor grammar flaws.
Between my initial reading (on Friday) of Bob’s blog and logging on to http://www.tallahassee.com/ this morning, two typos jumped off the page (first case) and screen (second case). It was time to e-mail Bob.
In my e-mail, I expressed my hope that there can be some happy medium between those non-existent “back of the room” proofreaders and “a journalistic organization resigning itself to an attitude of “we’ll catch what we can, but errors happen.”
I pointed out the on-line lead for the well-done “print exclusive” article about the fiscal difficulties faced by the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts. The text stated:
The recession has been particularly though on theLeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts, a Tallahasseenonprofit that’s been around for 47 years.
I also pointed out that the header to a very informative article in yesterday’s Democrat, which described how to prepare for the sport of triathlon, was titled this way:
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.