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Sun errs

For about 16 years, from 1970 to 1986, a gentleman named Rudolph Handel appeared regularly at the corner of Calvert and Centre streets in front of the Sun building displaying a sign: “SUN LIES,” it read on one side, “SUN ERRS” on the other.

Mr. Handel complained that the paper had written inaccurately about him in an article, and he was unsatisfied with the paper’s follow-up. “SUN LIES; SUN ERRS” became a catchphrase in the newsroom for many years.

The other day James Bready, a retired Sun editor who drops by now and then, usually with a sheaf of tear sheets marked with errors, quizzed me on what the most frequent errors in the paper are.

He had one in hand, a reference to the “central branch” of the Pratt Library. The Pratt’s central library on cathedral street is not a branch, but the main library from which the subordinate branches radiate. All the same, “central branch” keeps slipping into print despite years of admonitions.

I’ve been moved to think about our most incorrigible lapses.

You might be surprised, though my own reaction is more of chagrin, to discover how frequently we have referred to a local university and medical school as “John Hopkins.”

If you gamble, you will not be startled to learn that the lottery numbers are frequently incorrect, despite the presence of a thoroughgoing, laminated sheet of instructions posted by the city desk.

If you live on the Eastern Shore, you probably sneer at The Sun for, among other things, a amentable tendency to locate Shore towns in the wrong counties.

Perhaps — broad hint pending — you could identify some favorites yourself. It’s hot outside. Do you have anything better to do?

 

 

Posted by John McIntyre at 3:37 PM | | Comments (9)
        

Comments

My current favorite? "... among other things, a amentable(sic)..."

Shows that everyone slips up every so often.

I know this isn't what you asked, but...do you know the identity of a more recent picketer in front of The Sun? His sign read something about postal inspectors.

I have no information about him.

Er...maybe they err too?

At the risk of sounding overly obsessed about inconsequential details, my recent favorite errors were in an article in April about beta blockers, where valine and leucine were called proteins and a protein was referred to as a gene. Of the two, the last is me just being persnickety, as it really is a question of italics. I'm less forgiving about the first, but I'm willing to admit that it, too, may be an unimportant oversight. Either way, they gave me a nice chuckle.

My favorite recent error comes not from the Sun but from the Post:

http://dcist.com/2008/06/05/washington_post_4.php

Not to pick on the other guys, but this is just too good.

John said:
==
If you live on the Eastern Shore, you probably sneer at The Sun for, among other things, a amentable tendency to locate Shore towns in the wrong counties.
==

People on the Shore haven't gotten a decent shake from the SUN since Mr. Mencken's retirement. At least he was paying attention.

Sez John:

==
You might be surprised, though my own reaction is more of chagrin, to discover how frequently we have referred to a local university and medical school as “John Hopkins.”
==

I sat through a presentation by a Kent County Health Dep't employee who oughta know better who used this exact phrase.

Odd they never 'err' in the direction of "Johns Hopkin".

I have put myself personally in charge of Woman's Industrial Exchange

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at john.mcintyre@baltsun.com.
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