Thursday, March 10, 2011

Words Matter Week Day 4

Words can be mangled, misused, or misunderstood. What is your funniest example of mangling, misuse, or misunderstanding?

Although the above isn't a personal example, I chose this one from the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to demonstrate my point for one reason: These things actually happen in the newspaper business! And it’s often a journalist’s worst nightmare.

When we are writing a story, it’s often late in the day – sometimes in the middle of the night – and so we’re not always at our most wide awake. Unfortunately, that’s when awful and embarrassing mistakes occur, no matter how careful we are.

Writers truly rely on editors and proofreaders to ensure these mistakes don’t find their way into actual print. But no matter how diligent, every now and then, they sneak through and there they are … staring you in the face … making you want to crawl into a cave and hide. You’re sure everyone you pass on the street is laughing at you and pointing their fingers behind your back at your idiocy.

And, yes, I've made some goofy mistakes that went unnoticed until after print. Every writer has!

But this too shall pass. Within a day or two, something else will come along to take their minds off your goof and before long, it’s a thing of the past. Now, some other writer has become the brunt of their jokes.

Whew! You’re now in the clear … or are you? It all depends on if some late night talk show host has seen your mistake and talks about it in front of millions of viewers.

So be careful! Don’t ever think you’re immune to their prying eyes.

All those shows, they actually have subscriptions to the country’s small town newspapers. They will find your mistakes and when you least expect it, you’ll get a call from your family and friends letting you know they saw your byline on that show and the whole world is chuckling!

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