Wednesday, 05 January 2011 20:29

Mistake is a reminder to tell it like it is

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“… but a belief in hard work and treating others fairly was ingrained from a very early age in my brothers and I.”

 

See the mistake in the sentence fragment above? Hear it? I bet most people don’t, and I suspect that 10 years from now even fewer still will spot it.

But at least two readers caught my grammatical faux pas from two weeks ago and felt they should let me know about it. Others probably read it and just laughed at my goof. To be honest, I’m embarrassed to have made the mistake.

The rule is that when the object of the preposition is a personal pronoun, it should be “me” and not “I.” So the correct wording should have been “but a belief in hard work and treating others fairly was ingrained from a very early age in my brothers and me … ingrained in … me (not ingrained in … “I.”) Now you hear it? Of course.

No excuse for such a mistake, and I’ll attribute it to deadline writing. I know the rule, but I also sometimes forget it. Like a word whose spelling I can’t commit to memory, and so I know it is wise to look it up when using it.  Effective writers, I tell people, know their weaknesses and when to use their crutches. That’s why editors are so important.

 

The permanence of print

This little episode, however, brought to mind several reasons regarding why I think newspapers still have a future.

In many ways, print newspapers have become a bit staid in a digital age when information can soar around the globe in a few hours. However, staid can also mean serious, solid and steady. That also translates into credible, and every single serious newspaper still around guards its credibility like a mother protecting her children.

And our readers expect us to get it right. When we don’t — whether it’s a mistake in grammar or a factual error — they let us know, and we in turn let you know that we got it wrong. Again, every credible newspaper wears its mistakes on its sleeves.

How often do you see that in digital media? Most of the reporters and editors and designers at digital sites certainly care about their integrity, but there is also the constant need to move on, to get the next post up and the next story finished in the never-ending 24-hour news cycle in which they operate.

Right now, most digital media sites are understaffed and poorly financed because the successful business model for them — with a few notable, rare exceptions — has not been developed (especially at the local and regional level). That means they are more than likely under even more pressure to churn out stories and copy.

 

The digital age is upon us

This is not meant as a criticism of Internet news. To the contrary, every print media company is scrambling to stay abreast of the fast-changing digital news business. As creators of unique content and storehouses of troves of historical information, I’m betting that we will be able to continue to make a successful business of providing information in whatever platform becomes profitable.

But I do tire of hearing that print is dead as a doornail. It’s pretty obvious to me that right now people have learned to get their information —news and advertising  — from a variety of sources. That includes print, digital, television, and probably several other new devices that are being developed in some garage or college dorm room right now.

But for some readers, print still holds a kind of integrity that the new media — as exciting and whizbang as it is — can’t touch. We know times will change, and all I can promise is that when it does, we plan to be there.

 

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

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