Jul 22, 2009

On CNN, Proofreading, and Collective Distractedness

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Before: "Astronauts breath deep, prep for high-flying battery swap"; click for larger image

After: "Astronauts breathe deep, prep for high-flying battery swap"; click for larger image

The typographical error was only up for 10 minutes or so on the corporate website this morning, but I found it amusing that an international news powerhouse like CNN would even let out a headline without having some sort of proofreading system in place. True, it was only the missing letter "e," and the error was corrected, but this was at the very top of the main site of the corporate webpage.

Now, I rarely criticize individuals (even my students) for typographical errors, as I have generated more than a few myself. I have even made headline-level typos on this very blog; the difference, of course, is that I run a one-person show here, unless you count the voices in my head as separate people.

Just kidding. Or are we?

One would think that a company with some 4000 news professionals would make sure that at least the headlines were spelled properly. Heck, with the wide variety of spell-checking programs that abound, CNN does not even need to rely on a human proofreader, though I find that knowledgeable humans can out-perform most computerized spell-checkers.

Still, even the rather lame Microsoft Word © spell-checker managed to spot this error:

I suppose that this is the age of instant informational gratification, and a time when speed trumps accuracy and grammar. After all, this is an era where poor spelling and grammar are prized by text-happy fools, people who "write" in sentences like this:

LOL @ ur life becuz she wants nuttin to do wit u. n cuz ur not hers.

So I will return to my own little quasi-academic world, knowing that CNN's momentary spelling lapse is repaired, but remaining convinced that this is a sign of a linguistic apocalypse. I fear for the day when text-speak replaces structured language, for this surely will usher in an era of stupidity-as-fashion.

Or may b i should rite lik im part of teh nu wayz n stuff, n stop bein such a ol skool peep 2 worry bout wat ur readin n all dat - aiiieeet im out latr skatrz!

3 comments:

Mad Jack said...

Tell phred I want my hat back.

Thomas said...

Perhaps CNN should hire Russ Sprinkle.

dr-exmedic said...

yE4H, 7H05e pe0pLe wH0 wR17e 1N 7Ex7 me5549E 5YN74X r 7074l n008 L05er5 4nD n07 lee7 En0u9H 70 de4l w17 7EH l1KE5 0F u5!

:)

Translation software here.