Published March 30, 2006
Typos in stories are understandable but unacceptable
I can remember when newspapers and broadcast news were accepted as the standards for proper pronunciation, spelling and grammar. Currently, street slang and improperly used forms of speech has become the usual fare. (Evidently, such things as homonyms are among the subject matter present day journalists no longer study - although this isn't the nit I am picking today.) The term 'T-bone' has been used in The Olympian to refer to a broadside collision. Very often the wrong word is used in the stories and editorials in The Olympian. Take, for example, the March 30, 2006 editorial. 'Nonplused' has apparently been used to mean 'indifferent or not caring.' My dictionaries give 'perplexed, confused' as the accepted definition. It seems that proofreading must not be done as part of publishing newspapers now. Far too many errors appear in common sentence structure and syntax on a daily basis. Few of the mistakes noted could be attributed to typographical errors. Watching the newscasts on television has become a chore for me because of the poor usage of proper English (American variety). I am no expert in proper grammatical usage, but even for one such as I, the poor presentation in all of the news media is glaring; and I include publications such as Newsweek and Time magazines as deserving a share of the shame. As an aside, I am relatively new to the Northwest and I have experienced a bit of frustration at the love of acronyms in this area. Too often, they are employed in articles and rarely are the originating phrase or terms given. How is a newcomer supposed to decipher their meanings? It took several weeks for me to find out that LOTT meant Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County -- at least I think it does. I realize the pressure of putting out a daily publication can be daunting, but isn't there any room for a more literate presentation? -- M. Ishida, LaceyExecutive Editor Vickie Kilgore: Our dictionary defines nonplused as "bewildered" and that was exactly what we were trying to convey, that some residents are bewildered by the hubbub over the mail consolidation plan because they prefer the Internet for correspondence. It's true that newspapers today typically no longer have positions designated strictly for proofreading. Stories are edited by line editors and by copy editors. Those copy editors also design and paginate -- or assemble -- each page in the computer to be output to the press. They then make a page proof and another set of eyes goes over that page looking for typos or other errors. But mistakes can still get through. Considering all the words we process each night that's understandable although never acceptable.We try to avoid acronyms -- what we call alphabet soup -- when they are not readily identifiable. However some acronyms in our community have become commonly accepted. I think LOTT is one of those.Good grammar and syntax are an increasing challenge. Too many journalism students do not get adequate schooling in either of those areas.