Category Archives: Journalism

In Honor of Independence Day

Happy Independence Day, everyone! In honor of our country’s birthday, I have a thematically appropriate grammatical error.

From People.com today:

Joey Chestnut Wins Hot Dog Eating Contest
By Stephen M. Silverman

At Wednesday’s midday match, the 23-year-old civil-engineering student beat six-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi, 29, of Japan, by downing a record-breaking 66 dogs. Kobayashi ate 63 dogs.

In the final 120 seconds of the 12-minute competition the competitors appeared to be an adrenaline surging jaw-to-jaw tie – until Chestnut won.

Civil-engineering?

Last time I checked, it was civil engineering. That hyphen is entirely unnecessary.

Also, there should be a comma after competition in the second paragraph.

Also, take a look at the title. It should be Hot Dog-Eating Contest, not Hot Dog Eating Contest. It would also be appropriate to use this rule when discussing cud-chewing contests or midget-tossing competitions. Exceptions would be made for base jumping competitions or bungee jumping finals, as base jumping and bungee jumping are entities unto themselves, while hot dog eating isn’t well-known enough to be its own entity.

Stephen M. Silverman, I know that it was probably your editor who made the mistake with the headline — it’s rare that a writer gets to write his or her own headlines. But for the rest of the mistakes, pay attention! You’re really going to need to step up.

Happy Fourth! I hope you have a fantastic Pops-listening, fireworks-watching, hot dog-eating evening of fun!

Does Metro Even Have an Editor?

When I got my first job out of college, it was as if I had joined a new club: the Boston commuter club. I had a group of friends from my training class, and we would chat about rush hour, about the T, about the regulars in South Station, and about what had been written in Metro that morning.

Metro is available at every MBTA station in the mornings. The thing about it is that it’s such a crappy paper that nobody would be reading it if it weren’t free and there weren’t people handing it to you each morning. It’s a Boston edition, and it focuses about half and half on regional news and a combination of national and international news.

Since the paper gains profit purely from ad revenue, it’s not exactly like they’re rolling in it. (Nor is any other paper.) But still, you think that they could afford to hire a decent copyeditor! There are SO many errors in any given issue of Metro! It’s like a game, trying to find them.

Here is today’s gem:

TMZ claims that Spears is receiving payments from an agency for photo-ops and site her frequent wardrobe changes throughout the day as evidence.

Read it again.

This is a tough one, and I shouldn’t be too hard on the editors, since it’s often extremely difficult to spot a wayward homophone.

Sight, site and cite are three different words with three different meanings. Quite obviously, “sight” refers to something that has been seen. “Site” refers to a location, while “cite” is simply a verb that describes a form of verbal communication, usually in a mechanical way.

An example that will create a lovely image in your head:

We arrived at the site where the film crew had set up their equipment, beach towels and all, when I nearly vomited at the sight of an elderly woman lounging in a thong bikini; we thought she’d leave immediately, but she simply cited her right to linger on a public beach during daylight hours.

There you go, Metro. TMZ did not “site” anything. They simply cited evidence.

Again, I know that it’s tough to notice a homophone sticking out of place like that, but Metro is in such need of a decent editor that I really don’t care whatsoever.

You’d think that a newspaper aimed at those who work in a city known for being a leader in higher education, healthcare and technology would be clear of errors.

Does Metro Even Have an Editor?

When I got my first job out of college, it was as if I had joined a new club: the Boston commuter club. I had a group of friends from my training class, and we would chat about rush hour, about the T, about the regulars in South Station, and about what had been written in Metro that morning.

Metro is available at every MBTA station in the mornings. The thing about it is that it’s such a crappy paper that nobody would be reading it if it weren’t free and there weren’t people handing it to you each morning. It’s a Boston edition, and it focuses about half and half on regional news and a combination of national and international news.

Since the paper gains profit purely from ad revenue, it’s not exactly like they’re rolling in it. (Nor is any other paper.) But still, you think that they could afford to hire a decent copyeditor! There are SO many errors in any given issue of Metro! It’s like a game, trying to find them.

Here is today’s gem:

TMZ claims that Spears is receiving payments from an agency for photo-ops and site her frequent wardrobe changes throughout the day as evidence.

Read it again.

This is a tough one, and I shouldn’t be too hard on the editors, since it’s often extremely difficult to spot a wayward homophone.

Sight, site and cite are three different words with three different meanings. Quite obviously, “sight” refers to something that has been seen. “Site” refers to a location, while “cite” is simply a verb that describes a form of verbal communication, usually in a mechanical way.

An example that will create a lovely image in your head:

We arrived at the site where the film crew had set up their equipment, beach towels and all, when I nearly vomited at the sight of an elderly woman lounging in a thong bikini; we thought she’d leave immediately, but she simply cited her right to linger on a public beach during daylight hours.

There you go, Metro. TMZ did not “site” anything. They simply cited evidence.

Again, I know that it’s tough to notice a homophone sticking out of place like that, but Metro is in such need of a decent editor that I really don’t care whatsoever.

You’d think that a newspaper aimed at those who work in a city known for being a leader in higher education, healthcare and technology would be clear of errors.

Who’s vs. Whose Explained SO Well!

I’m a fan of the HBO show Big Love, a drama about a polygamist family trying to live a normal life in present-day Utah. (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. If I know you, I’d be happy to lend you the DVDs!) Unfortunately, I don’t get HBO, so I missed the season premiere.

This morning, I decided to read the review anyway, since it’s been about a year since the season finale took place. I’d been dying to know what happened next!

Shirley Halperin wrote the review for EW.com. And Shirley Halperin is a goddess. In one swift, deft move, and probably without intention, she demonstrated the way to use the words “who’s” and “whose.”

Outed but Not Down
By Shirley Halperin

This creates the perfect opportunity for good old Nicki to step in, step up, and save the day. Which is what makes her such a fascinating character: Is she the sacrificial lamb or the one who brings the lamb to slaughter? From her back-and-forth bickering with Margene over who’s going shopping, who’s taking the kids to school, who’s making dinner, and whose turn it is to satisfy Bill later that night (okay, that last one didn’t happen on this particular show), it looks like she’s trying all angles, as usual.

Oh, that is beautiful.

BEAUTIFUL.

Shirley Halperin, you are a deity, a mermaid, and one classy broad. If I ever meet you, I’d be glad to buy you a coffee.

One of my biggest gripes is when people mix up “who’s” and “whose.” I’m about to explain the rules regarding these words, but after Shirley Halperin’s stunning explanation, I barely need to go into depth. A short rundown is fine.

“Who’s” is the conjuction of “who is” or “who has.”

“Whose” refers to possession.

Examples:

I don’t know whose legwarmers these are, but I’m throwing them in the trash on principle alone!

Mary didn’t want to speak with Carla, whose medication caused her to growl like a bear at the slightest hint of displeasure.

I don’t know who’s going to attend the date auction, but if I were sixteen again, I would bet on A.C. Slater so fast, it would make your head spin!

I beg you to tell me who’s been emptying the vodka bottle and refilling it with water; believe me, vodka alone does not freeze!

Learn it. Live it.

Shirley Halperin, I am so glad I clicked on that Big Love review this morning. I am very proud of your writing. If I may go out on a limb, I think that you may have inadvertently changed someone’s bad grammar habits for the better! You get a gold star.

People Magazine is Being RUINED

Munmun O’Neill, I don’t know you. After reading your embarrassingly bad story on the birth of tennis player Lindsay Davenport’s new baby boy, I hope that I never meet you.

It’s obvious that you haven’t been in your job for long. Who could make errors like these and still keep a job in the writing field — or ANY field?!

The quality of the stories published on People.com used to be impeccable. Errors were nowhere to be found, and the journalistic tone was perfect — friendly enough for middle-aged Midwestern housewives to get their soft news fix each week, but professional enough for the intellectual and intelligent to appreciate as a credible news source.

That isn’t happening anymore.

The quality has gone down quickly and sharply. I have a theory about that. Though many big stories are initially published on People.com, the site has to compete with celebrity blogs like Perez Hilton and TMZ, and my personal favorite, Dlisted. I think that in the world of blogs, where timeliness is essential, the magazine has cut off some of its steps to publication in favor of getting the news out as soon as possible.

Being a competitor for celebrity blogs may have also affected their standards for hiring writers, but I doubt that. I would imagine that getting a job writing for People is such a great job that only the very best writers would be hired.

As a result, stories like the following get published:

Tennis Star Lindsay Davenport Has a Boy
By Munmun O’Neill

Tennis star Lindsay Davenport can now add motherhood to her list of impressive titles.

On Sunday, Davenport and her husband, Jonathan Leach, welcomed thier first child, a son named Jagger Jonathan Leach, her rep confirms. The baby, who weighed in 8 lbs., 1 oz, was born at 6:15 p.m. in Newport Beach, Calif.

“Lindsay and Jon are ecstatic and Jagger is healthy and doing great,” Davenport’s agent, Ted Godsick, told PEOPLE Tuesday.

Davenport, 31, and Leach, got married in 2003. They announced they were expecting in December of last year. The pregnancy prevented Davenport from competing this season.

I’m so disgusted, I can barely look at the page. And it’s not because of the kid’s name.

Who, in this day and age, spells the word “their” incorrectly?! Oh my God!! I honestly think that I may vomit.

There are still tons and tons of people, most of whom are not professional writers, who mix up “their,” “there” and “they’re.” While that is unforgivable in itself, it seems even worse that a professional writer would mess up the spelling!

The next sentence involves the usage of an extraneous comma. The comma after Leach is inexcusable. It’s terrible; it reminds me of reading classmates’ essays in middle school.

Davenport has an age, but Leach clearly does not. To make the sentence correct, it would be best to remove the extraneous comma.

Even if the comma weren’t there, however, the sentence would still be awkward. Either both or neither ages should be listed. I would change it to, “Davenport and Leach were married in 2003,” or maybe, “Davenport and Leach married in 2003.”

“Got married” sounds awkward. It’s tough to make the word “got” sound professional.

I may be a bit unfair in placing all of the blame on Munmun O’Neill. Even though her name appears on this story, she surely had an editorial board to get through, even if it was just one editor. How could any editor, in any field, anywhere in the Anglophone world, miss these atrocious errors?

Still, I highly doubt that Munmun O’Neill had a perfect story that an editor intentionally changed to be incorrect. And for that reason, Munmun O’Neill, you have been flagged by the Grammar Vandal.

Who’s vs. Whose Explained SO Well!

I’m a fan of the HBO show Big Love, a drama about a polygamist family trying to live a normal life in present-day Utah. (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. If I know you, I’d be happy to lend you the DVDs!) Unfortunately, I don’t get HBO, so I missed the season premiere.

This morning, I decided to read the review anyway, since it’s been about a year since the season finale took place. I’d been dying to know what happened next!

Shirley Halperin wrote the review for EW.com. And Shirley Halperin is a goddess. In one swift, deft move, and probably without intention, she demonstrated the way to use the words “who’s” and “whose.”

Outed but Not Down
By Shirley Halperin

This creates the perfect opportunity for good old Nicki to step in, step up, and save the day. Which is what makes her such a fascinating character: Is she the sacrificial lamb or the one who brings the lamb to slaughter? From her back-and-forth bickering with Margene over who’s going shopping, who’s taking the kids to school, who’s making dinner, and whose turn it is to satisfy Bill later that night (okay, that last one didn’t happen on this particular show), it looks like she’s trying all angles, as usual.

Oh, that is beautiful.

BEAUTIFUL.

Shirley Halperin, you are a deity, a mermaid, and one classy broad. If I ever meet you, I’d be glad to buy you a coffee.

One of my biggest gripes is when people mix up “who’s” and “whose.” I’m about to explain the rules regarding these words, but after Shirley Halperin’s stunning explanation, I barely need to go into depth. A short rundown is fine.

“Who’s” is the conjuction of “who is” or “who has.”

“Whose” refers to possession.

Examples:

I don’t know whose legwarmers these are, but I’m throwing them in the trash on principle alone!

Mary didn’t want to speak with Carla, whose medication caused her to growl like a bear at the slightest hint of displeasure.

I don’t know who’s going to attend the date auction, but if I were sixteen again, I would bet on A.C. Slater so fast, it would make your head spin!

I beg you to tell me who’s been emptying the vodka bottle and refilling it with water; believe me, vodka alone does not freeze!

Learn it. Live it.

Shirley Halperin, I am so glad I clicked on that Big Love review this morning. I am very proud of your writing. If I may go out on a limb, I think that you may have inadvertently changed someone’s bad grammar habits for the better! You get a gold star.

People Magazine is Being RUINED

Munmun O’Neill, I don’t know you. After reading your embarrassingly bad story on the birth of tennis player Lindsay Davenport’s new baby boy, I hope that I never meet you.

It’s obvious that you haven’t been in your job for long. Who could make errors like these and still keep a job in the writing field — or ANY field?!

The quality of the stories published on People.com used to be impeccable. Errors were nowhere to be found, and the journalistic tone was perfect — friendly enough for middle-aged Midwestern housewives to get their soft news fix each week, but professional enough for the intellectual and intelligent to appreciate as a credible news source.

That isn’t happening anymore.

The quality has gone down quickly and sharply. I have a theory about that. Though many big stories are initially published on People.com, the site has to compete with celebrity blogs like Perez Hilton and TMZ, and my personal favorite, Dlisted. I think that in the world of blogs, where timeliness is essential, the magazine has cut off some of its steps to publication in favor of getting the news out as soon as possible.

Being a competitor for celebrity blogs may have also affected their standards for hiring writers, but I doubt that. I would imagine that getting a job writing for People is such a great job that only the very best writers would be hired.

As a result, stories like the following get published:

Tennis Star Lindsay Davenport Has a Boy
By Munmun O’Neill

Tennis star Lindsay Davenport can now add motherhood to her list of impressive titles.

On Sunday, Davenport and her husband, Jonathan Leach, welcomed thier first child, a son named Jagger Jonathan Leach, her rep confirms. The baby, who weighed in 8 lbs., 1 oz, was born at 6:15 p.m. in Newport Beach, Calif.

“Lindsay and Jon are ecstatic and Jagger is healthy and doing great,” Davenport’s agent, Ted Godsick, told PEOPLE Tuesday.

Davenport, 31, and Leach, got married in 2003. They announced they were expecting in December of last year. The pregnancy prevented Davenport from competing this season.

I’m so disgusted, I can barely look at the page. And it’s not because of the kid’s name.

Who, in this day and age, spells the word “their” incorrectly?! Oh my God!! I honestly think that I may vomit.

There are still tons and tons of people, most of whom are not professional writers, who mix up “their,” “there” and “they’re.” While that is unforgivable in itself, it seems even worse that a professional writer would mess up the spelling!

The next sentence involves the usage of an extraneous comma. The comma after Leach is inexcusable. It’s terrible; it reminds me of reading classmates’ essays in middle school.

Davenport has an age, but Leach clearly does not. To make the sentence correct, it would be best to remove the extraneous comma.

Even if the comma weren’t there, however, the sentence would still be awkward. Either both or neither ages should be listed. I would change it to, “Davenport and Leach were married in 2003,” or maybe, “Davenport and Leach married in 2003.”

“Got married” sounds awkward. It’s tough to make the word “got” sound professional.

I may be a bit unfair in placing all of the blame on Munmun O’Neill. Even though her name appears on this story, she surely had an editorial board to get through, even if it was just one editor. How could any editor, in any field, anywhere in the Anglophone world, miss these atrocious errors?

Still, I highly doubt that Munmun O’Neill had a perfect story that an editor intentionally changed to be incorrect. And for that reason, Munmun O’Neill, you have been flagged by the Grammar Vandal.