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Prophet or Loss?

[endif]--Let’s face it, reading the news these days is depressing. I’m not talking here about media outlets bombarding our psyches 24/7 with news of mass shootings and the latest faux pas of ghastly political candidates. I’m talking about the language we’re subjected to on a daily basis that is full of grammatical errors. Worse still, even respected news outlets are regular offenders, (including my beloved NPR and BBC)! ![endif]--

Take, for example, an ABC news story I read this morning. It discusses how, in the aftermath of the carnage created at an Orlando nightclub, the local Muslim community is looking to educate their non-Muslim neighbors about Islam as a peaceful religion. Having worked in media in a previous life, I have to say I sympathize with the reporter who was sent off to get this story. Interviewing a local Imam so the five p.m. news producer can put a local spin on an unfolding national drama is a boring assignment at best.

Nonetheless, I suspect the intrepid reporter rushed back to the studio, handed over video footage for the early evening show, and knuckled down at a communal workstation to bash out a corresponding online story. All went well until she quoted the Imam thus:

“This goes against the very basic teachings of Islam, and violates every teaching of our profit Muhammad.”

PROFIT? Seriously! Did that just happen? Where on earth did the editing process go? Having cut his teeth as a journalist back in the early 1900s, I’m quite sure Mr. Hemingway turns in his grave every time a news outlet makes another dreadful writing faux pas. He even may have winced at this one.

I know many of you are saying “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” and yes, I’ve made my share of grammatical flubs in my time, but editing is REALLY, REALLY important! Even when there’s no one around and you have to do it yourself. A slip up like the one above can become the only thing a reader takes away from a written piece, leaving its societal value looking like carrion. These days we writers have the resources of the entire Internet at our disposal. We must be sure to use them, as no one ever gets a second chance at a first impression, however clichéd it sounds!

Do you have any priceless flubs to share? Not your own, of course, because we're perfect, right? ;)


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