Monday, May 5, 2008

Copybitch: Which paper has the worstest grammar?

Look, they fit in a two-seater.

When it comes to distinguishing comparative and superlative, the newspapers are tied with the bloggers and the candidates themselves for not caring about the needs of ordinary grammarians.

Two candidates are running for the Democratic nomination. Between them, there can be a stronger candidate. Not this, from Adam Nagourney and Marjorie Connelly of The New York Times:
Still, the survey suggested that Mr. Obama, of Illinois, had lost much or all of the once-commanding lead he had held over Mrs. Clinton, of New York, among Democratic voters on the question of which of them would be the strongest candidate against Mr. McCain, of Arizona.
It bears repetition that the Times is not alone in perpetuating this superlative solecism. The sparklingly well spoken Obama himself - who, to his political peril, makes a point of pronouncing Taliban "Taleebahn" - does it routinely.

One more bitch about the Times: as usual, the links to the reporter's bylines are to lists of their stories, something only a paper with a rich self-regard and ignorance of readers' needs would think to provide in a medium where it is standard practice to hyperlink authors names with email addresses. The link for Adam Nagourney at least gets you to a second link to a form with which to email him, but it warns that the message will be delayed.

When I was a reporter for, every reporter's byline had a mailto: link. I frequently got email from readers that helped me clarify if not correct the posted story in very short order or alerted me to related story ideas. The Times doesn't cotton to this element of "interactivity," a longstanding symptom of its illness-at-ease on the Internet.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Copybitch: Times for a verb

You have to be a real bitch to nitpick about a death notice, but...
Heath Ledger, Actor, Is Found Dead at 28
The housekeeper had been in the apartment for some time before Mr. Ledger’s body was discovered, and she let the masseuse in when she at the apartment for a 3:31 p.m. appointment with Mr. Ledger, the police said.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Copybitch: CNN vs. "Guiliani"

I have this bad habit of sending in corrections to online publications. Sometimes I get a thank-you email, sometimes I don't. Often I have to search around the site to find the email of someone in a position of copy responsibility. No more.

Introducing Copybitch, a new feature of this blog that will attempt to raise awareness of proper grammar and correct spelling while covertly hoping one of these publications will start offering me copy bounties to keep these things quiet.

Note to CNN: In Italian, g before the vowels a, o, or u is a hard g, as in "gumba." To make a soft "j" sound, as in "Giuliani," you need to add an i to soften it, but BEFORE the u. Conversely, to harden a g before i or e, add an h, as in "Ghirardelli."

Dying Iowa voter grills candidates on health care

Stangl says she's been disappointed by many of the Republican ideas on this issue. In fact, she says Rudy Guiliani and Mitt Romney "blew her off" when she approached them about it.

"Guiliani said to me that health care is good, everybody likes good health and health care is good -- some variation of that I've played over and over again in my mind, without giving me any specifics," she told CNN.

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