Somewhere in Toronto today, one of my colleagues — a copy editor at the Toronto Sun — is most likely having a rather uncomfortable Saturday after choosing to use his or her own unique spelling of the word “influential.” Spelling mistakes happen all the time in all newspapers but it’s always a bit uncomfortable when they happen in a headline. And it’s even more uncomfortable when that headline also refers to The Boss. The good news for that sports editor: The name of The Boss appears to have been spelled correctly!
And I say, if you can’t have a chuckle at your own expense then you’re in the wrong business. So, go ahead, have a good laugh at our expense. (And, while I have you, let me brag, that the Suns in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton all have the best sports sections in their market bar none …) :
Of course, everyone — and I mean everyone — in the news business makes a howler now and again. Here’s the august Globe and Mail apologizing for a key omission in a map it published while reporting on the Arab Spring early in 2011. (Trust me: As a former Globe writer, this is the kind of embarrassing faux-pas that has the editors on Front Street in the dumps for a week):
And then there’s this, from a year ago, when The Toronto Star appeared to get the scoop of the year and plastered this all over its front page:
It was quickly nay-sayed by Harper’s aides and, though the 40th anniversary has come and gone, you can still find the story at the Star‘s Web site today.
Of course, sometimes, you just shake your head and mumble, “There but for the grace of god …” when you see mistakes in your own or other papers. That was the case with the Ottawa Citizen this week which had to make a big, bold front-page apology, something newspapers have to do from time to time when they get something so wrong, the lawyers are called in to help the paper avoid writing a big cheque to the “wronged”.
Of course, the boo-boos made in print have always been a bit more permanent because you could clip them out, photocopy them, and pass around the best ones. Broadcasters — who easily make just as many mistakes as the print folks — used to have it easy because of the impermanence of their medium. No longer. The widespread adoption of digital devices everywhere has now made that easier and, as a result, broadcast boo-boos are now also a little more permanent. Here’s one broadcaster’s “oops” moment, drawn to my attention earlier this week by Ottawa press gallery member Colin Horgan: