The story: Grand Old Planet (NY Times Op-Ed 11-23-12)
The mistake: “How are we going to search effectively for natural resources if schools trying to teach modern geology must give equal time to claims that the world is only 6.000 years old?”
The Copy Vigilante says: I know you probably don’t like numbers. That’s why you’re in the writing, editing and journalism business. But still, when presenting a number in an article let’s get it right!
The story: In Search of Answers From Mr. Romney (NY Times Editorial 10-8-12)
The mistake: “…hasn’t really talked about them before.Militancy in the…”
The Copy Vigilante says: This is an easy one NY Times. A space goes after the period. And question mark, exclamation point and any other punctuation that ends a sentence. Come on now!
The story: Former Manson follower recommended for parole after 40 years (nbcnews.com 10-4-12)
The mistake: “Former Charles Manson associate Bruce Davis…”
“…recommendation that David be released.”
The Copy Vigilante says: Why should we believe anything in this article when nbcnews.com can’t even get the person’s name right? The first four times he’s mentioned his last name is “Davis”. But in the second-to-last paragraph he becomes “David”. One of the first things my editor told me years ago at a major daily newspaper was this: “Make sure you always get the person’s name right!”
The story: The Scandalously Boring Truth About Michael Jackson’s Will (forbes.com 8-17-12)
The mistakes: “Michael’s first child—Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., born on in February—is mentioned by name… ”
“Others have confirmed that the King of Pop was in the Big Apple that day.”
The Copy Vigilante says: A big beer company once ran a “born on” ad campaign where they bragged about the freshness of their beer. The editor who worked on this story must have had a few at lunch because he/she couldn’t figure out if the article should get Prince’s precise birth date or just the month. As for the hyperlink, the editor forgot to underline “Big” and make it a link to NYC. Although something tells me their “editing” software decided to make this just a link to the company Apple. Hey Forbes, turn Hal off now!
The story and mistake:
When the Network Effect Goes Into Reverse
The more users a social network site attracts, the more others will want to use it. But a site’s audience can decline, too. (nytimes.com 8-17-12)
The Copy Vigilante says: Really? And I thought social media sites stayed hip forever.
The story: Plane towing “Will You Marry Me?” banner crashes off RI (cbsnews.com 7-24-12)
The mistakes: “A romantic gesture went awry off the coast of Rhode Island Monday when a plane towing a “Will You Marry Me” crashed into the water.”
CBS Boston affiliate WBZ reported that the Coast Guard rushed to rescue the pilot, the only one on board the plane, at around 4:10 p.m. ET after receiving a radio transmission
GENERIC life preserver ring coast guard rescue drowning (CBS/AP)
The Copy Vigilante says: A “Will You Marry Me” what? Salt and Pepper shaker set? Clown hat? Duck-billed platypus? My point is it could be anything given the fact that a very important word is missing here (at least they got it right in the headline.) In the next paragraph a period is missing. Is it just me or don’t sentences need punctuation? The last mistake is the caption under a picture of the Coast Guard logo and a life preserver. While they sound like tags they’re not because they don’t link to anything. And if they were tags they don’t belong under a picture. Instead it’s just a babbling line of copy.
The story: Has Air France Flight 447 mystery finally been solved? (cnn.com 7-4-12)
The mistakes: The lack of speed, wind or direction information also prevented the Autopilot system from functioning, said air accident investigator Alain Bouillard said at the time of the crash.
According to Learmount, many aviation experts have yet to rule out the human factor. “The crash happened at around 2:00 a.m. on a dark night…”
“Whether it was out of control — and I doubt this — it was not being controlled. Imagine it is 2 am and two sleepy pilots…”
The Copy Vigilante says: We don’t need two “saids” but do need consistency when it comes to showing the time. It’s either 2:00 a.m. or 2 am so come on CNN, pick one!
The story: Winning Greek party seeks coalition partners, gets early snubs (latimes.com 6-18-12)
The mistake: “Under Greek law, Samaras has three days to stitch together an coalition.”
The Copy Vigilante says: This is an easy one – “a” versus “an”. Too easy. Yet an old print guy, the LA Times, blew it again. Ugghh.
The story: Brought Mars to Earth With a Lyrical Mastery (nytimes.com 6-6-12)
The mistakes: Instead, he read everything he could get his hands on: Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway .
“ I’m not a serious person, and I don’t like serious people…”
The Copy Vigilante says: I think Ray Bradbury’s fascination with space got to the writer and editor of his NY Times obituary. Ahem. There should not be a space between the last word of a sentence and the punctuation, nor should there be a space between an open apostrophe mark and the word following it.
The story: Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury dies (cnn.com 6-6-12)
The mistake: “In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back.” he wrote in a book of essays published in 2005. “Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy…”
The Copy Vigilante says: The screaming period that stops this sentence dead should be a comma. Hello cnn.com, did any of your editors take Editing 101?!