To-Wit 101


by Greg Baysans, aka Poet X

To-Wit: Three
To-Wit: Four
To-Wit: Five
Back to: Grab Bag

. . . . .

"Welcome again, class, to To-Wit 101. To-Wit is an acronym for 'The Oregonian - What's It Teaching?'

"Today's topic is 'Errors that Spell-Check Will Not Catch'. We have two examples in today's text, The Oregonian for Monday, April 8, 2002.

"Let's start with a favorite page of mine, the Op-Ed page, B9. The column we're looking at is on the far right, Maureen Dowd's guest column from the New York Times. Fifth paragraph, first sentence: 'As the need for spirituality grows, the credibility of various faiths is wanes.'

"Before we talk about that, let's look at the other example, page E1, 'CD of the week' column. Second paragraph of the 'Career capsule' begins with this phrase, 'Not content with becoming yet another a guitar-god playing others' songs, Mayer decided to ...'

"Hmm. As we can obviously see, Spell-Check is not going to catch these errors. I can't help but wonder if The New York Times has, like so many other newspapers across the country, dispensed of proofreaders altogether or if this error appeared only in The Oregonian's version of a NYT column.

"It's a proofreader's pride to catch such errors. The writer cannot always be responsible for errors that occur long after their involvement. Editors are too busy to proofread each and every word in an issue. Writers should be best at writing, not knowing the ins and outs of proofreading. Even the typesetter, long accustomed to playing uncredited editor, cannot be expected to catch all of their own errors. A fresh set of eyes, traditionally the trained eyes of proofreaders, should inspect copy a final time before the presses roll.

"That's class for today, folks. Remember to bring tomorrow's paper for tomorrow's class. I'll see you then."

Professor Soren Horse, Portland Understands Papers University.