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As I was driving to the paragraph factory this afternoon, I heard a reporter on NPR* talking about today’s attack on Afghanistan’s Wardak police training center and saying that a mortar landed within the grounds.

A mortar is a piece of artillery. I’m assuming that a mortar shell or mortar round was fired into the center.


*Yes, I listen to NPR, dangerous lefty that I am. Mark my name down for the roundup.


Posted by John McIntyre at 2:10 PM | | Comments (7)


I wouldn't be too sure about that. The Afghani insurgents are not the brightest and may have well thrown the mortar over the wall.

Same error all over the shop today. I don't like to say this, but ... It couldn't be all down to the AP, could it?

My son is stationed in Afghanistan, "helping" train the forces. He might go with the mortar-over-the-wall option....

You listen to NPR? What? You don't listen to ESPN Radio? Knock me over with a feather.

Not dangerous, although it may please you to think of yourselves that way. Merely misinformed.

Somebody wrote "Merely misinformed." If you're looking for information on the radio, it's hard to do better than NPR, and it's extremely easy to do much, much worse.

If there's a news organization that makes more mistakes regarding military affairs than NPR, I haven't encountered it yet. Sadly, most of their mistakes could be prevented by consulting the AP Stylebook. As for doing better, the BBC World Service can be found on the FM dial in most large US cities, streaming from their website, and on various apps for iPhone and Android devices. Second choice would be PRI, which also has regional outlets and smart phone apps. That being said, having served in Iraq I'd also go with the "throw the mortar over the wall" storyline.

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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
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