Monday, February 16, 2009

Spiel Check: To Err Online Is Still All Too Human

One of my first and best sources when I covered Research Triangle Park for the Raleigh News & Observer was Mike Clark. Mike was then a senior corporate communications official for a nonprofit research center called MCNC. He and I were united by a lonely interest in words in a community of technology-oriented people who seemed to prefer cryptic and sometimes meaningless abbreviations -- like MCNC, which once stood for the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, but stopped meaning that sometime before I arrived there 15 years ago. (I also could count on Mike to appreciate the hackneyed puns, double entendres and occasional Yiddish I found ways to slip into my copy -- and still do.)

Mike now writes a column on language for the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., and a related blog, DoWriteRight. His latest column is a roundup of embarrassing typos he encountered. His concluding example recounts a humbling and absolutely unintentional error involving me and this very blog -- and the interactive way in which it was discovered and corrected. I'll let Mike tell the story from here....
"[Mark] was a panelist speaking about media careers to a group of journalism students at the University of Virginia. With his focus on online writing and editing, Mark emphasized that in today's world, many journalists are asked to blog frequently, so mastering the discipline and skills to edit one's own writing is critical.

"Right after the discussion, Mark received a text message from an eagle-eyed reader, alerting him that in his latest blog posting, Mark had left out an important 'r' when he wrote about 'an Obama T-shirt.'

"See there -- even with the best of us, shirt happens."

Sigh. Here's the original -- and now corrected! -- item to which Mike was referring.


writermike said...

Ta, Mark (I've been in touch with some Brits lately, thanks to these burgeoning Internets).
I wish I'd used "Spiel Check" etc. for my header. Darn.
We had some good times way back then, when newspapers were healthy. That's all right; now we'll have 'em online.

[mebbe I'll change my header. hmmmm]

Mark said...

Flattery is the highest form of flattery, Mike -- followed closely by imitation. So having already said such nice things about me in your column (edited out of my posting for my blog readers, who know better), please feel free to steal the "spiel" if you'd like. The word gods know that I certainly owe you.