I have the reputation of being a Grammar Nazi. However, I’m not a grammar expert. I double-check myself before I post anything publicly and I still make mistakes. I learned a lot by having my first book edited by a bulldog of an editor (that’s a compliment) who was relentless in her pursuit of perfection. When I got my first draft back it looked like someone had coloured on the pages with markers. Those were the changes she insisted on making. It was at first depressing and then illuminating.
So, we’ve established that I’m just as capable of making a mistake as anyone else. Good. Now I can confess that I collect major online mistakes in a folder titled Media Gems. I simply love to see that an editor at People magazine or someone who’s a well-known writer can overlook an obvious gaffe. My three areas of interest are: improperly used apostrophes, confusion of tenses and incorrect syntax, as in this example.
I read this and thought, why do police have aggressive coyotes and who is warning about them? The headline should have read, Warning From Police About Aggressive Coyotes or Police Warn About Aggressive Coyotes.
Then there’s this tacky story placement from People Magazine:
I believe that dogs are family, but Barbra Streisand’s dog as the second-biggest story the day Gregg Allman died? And placed alongside his death as if it’s equal? I don’t think so. That dog wasn’t even famous.
This is one of my favourites; mixing up ‘dead’ and ‘killed’. If the tourist was killed after the tiger attack, presumably someone came along and shot or strangled them. It should have read, Tourist Dies After Tiger Attack. That lets us know that the tiger killed the tourist, not some opportunistic murderer who happened upon them once the tiger had moved on.
Media Gems include spelling errors but they’re almost too easy. With a lack of online editors and the rush to get news out there, frequent spelling mistakes are almost predictable. I kept one gem that described a robber as fleeing on food (foot), another that warned of flodding (flooding) and still another that suggested a president (precedent) would be set by a legal decision. It’s a fun little hobby, collecting these goofs, if only to remind me that I’m not alone when I inevitably make one of my own.