Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Subbing tip #11: To err is human – but incorrect

Spotted everywhere, and now on the BBC, people going “err” when they want to indicate a certain uncertainty. This is odd – there’s a perfectly legitimate word for this, but it only has one “r”. Adding more because you think it makes it sound more hesitant has a certain logic, but is just plain wrong. […]

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Independent “i”: please employ more sub-editors

A few days ago I wrote, perhaps optimistically, that if “i” follows the Metro model, it’ll rely heavily on sub-editors to put the paper out, which should offer the benefit at least of raising standards of proofreading accuracy. How did that work out? Well, I didn’t catch the paper on its first day, but a skim […]

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Note to Bath & NE Somerset council: please proofread your roadsigns

It’s always fun for smug media professionals to flag up the illiteracy of local councils, so here’s a nice example from a road sign currently on display in Bath. Given the parlous state of the nation’s finances, I suspect it won’t be replaced for a while. But, I mean, it’s not as if you don’t […]

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

No Wallace and Gromit fans at the Metro, then…

This splash on the latest stop-motion animation short from the UK’s favourite Oscar-winning, Bristol-based animation studio manages to spell the company’s name wrong not just once, but all three times it is mentioned. Oh well, it was at least consistent. And it wasn’t in the headline or standfirst. Just for the record, it’s Aardman with […]

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

#badjournalism: I'm sorry – what was the story again?

Via Soilman comes an example of a news item from the Telegraph that fails to tell the reader almost everything they need to know in order to make sense of the story. It’s impossible to pull out any extracts from the story that make any real sense. Go and have a look and see if […]

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Subbing tip #10: Where’s the question?

Normally, the Radio Times is the most rigorously proofread magazine on the newsstand, so it’s a shame that this bit of sloppiness slipped into print. From Stuart Maconie’s “Maconie’s People” column of 3-9 July 2010 comes this: Forget what they say about James Brown. Damon Albarn is surely the hardest working man in showbiz? Whether […]

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Why fact-checking should start early

Nine-year-old Anna Carnochan has been in the news today, taking the prime minister to task over a potential tax on toys. She wasn’t happy with his reply, it seems, and is pursuing the matter with the tenacity of a young Jeremy Paxman. Apparently Anna “wants to be a news reporter” when she’s older. She’s currently […]

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Orwellian prize for journalistic misrepresentation

Via the ever-dependable Soilman comes news that an Oxford academic has set up a prize for the most inaccurate reporting of a piece of academic work. It sounds like a one-off joke – but the nominations process is outlined comprehensively enough, so it might take off. The project is the brainchild of Dorothy Bishop, a […]

Monday, May 31st, 2010


It seems Twitter users can’t actually spell “Israel” – as the top six trending topic worldwide right now demonstrates. Perhaps the mainstream media has nothing to fear after all… [UPDATE: Oh, all right – it’s one way of spelling it. But not the US or UK English way, which is interesting in itself…]

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Journalism student assessment: error round-up

Just how bad can journalism student assessment work be, in terms of spelling, grammar, punctuation and general accuracy? The answer: pretty bad. Let’s have a look at some of the most common (certainly the most noticeable) problems with student assessment work this year. Apostrophes No student, absolutely none, has the remotest clue how to use […]