I’m sure there will be a million comments telling me that there already are such things. Bear with me.
I have written before about the ludicrous amount of errors in the Moncton Times & Transcript local paper. I have seen malapropisms, poor grammar, misspelled words, even misspelled words in headlines. But the good ol’ T&T reached a new low today: an error in a headline ON THE FRONT PAGE.
I haven’t got my trusty scanner at the office I’m at now, but that’s OK, because they have dutifully reproduced the error on their Web site (shown – click to enlarge and see the headline at the bottom of the page). If you want to read the article, here is the link to, “Retails growth in Metro tops in Atlantic Canada.”
Do you suppose they meant “Retail’s” – i.e. the growth that belongs to Retail is tops? That feels awkward, but would make sense. And apostrophe errors seem to be the most popular kind of mistake these days, even by educated people, so that’s likely what the writer meant. “Retail growth” sounds more comfortable to my ear, but I’m on shaky grammatical ground there – that structure works in some places (e.g. “population growth”), but would sound silly in others (e.g. “street growth”).
Regardless, it’s clearly wrong the way it is, and hasn’t even been fixed in the medium that is perfect for instantly correcting errors. In The Long Tail, Chris Anderson writes about the democratization of the tools of information production, and uses Wikipedia as an example. Thanks to the wisdom of crowds, it’s almost as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica, but contains content about many, many times more topics. And, the moment an error is discovered, by anybody, it’s corrected. Britannica has to wait for their next printing. And there are no “wrong” versions of Wikipedia hanging around, whereas inaccurate leather-bound encyclopedia tomes are extant everywhere. My daughter could open the “P” volume of last year’s Britannica, and learn from a highly authoritative source that Pluto is the ninth planet in our Solar System. Wikipedia tells her the more current version of the facts.
The Times & Transcript could easily make a change to the article on their site. Do they not know the mistake is there, or do they just not care?