Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reading between the lines and seeing stars...

I wonder how many ordinary newspaper readers are "tuned" to readily pick out anything that's not quite right in what they are reading. Sometimes they are alerted -- after the occurrence -- to something that needs correction, as in ST's "What it should have been" (this label is referred to in-house as the dreaded WISHBone):

I felt the Hong Kong flagdown fare example was especially egregious. HK$2 is only Singapore 30 cents! No one queried that?

Perhaps more subliminal is the error found in an otherwise excellent commentary piece that appeared in Tuesday's TODAY (Dec 10). Hint: the riot occurred on Sunday:

Spotted the error? "Last night's" (repeated twice) should have been "Sunday night's" since the article appeared on Tuesday, not Monday, and the riot took place on Sunday. The writer is not at fault. It is the job of the editorial staff involved at the various stages of getting the article to print to ensure that such lapses do not occur. Good journalists do not just say, for example, "I'll have the story ready tomorrow." It is seared in their consciousness to say instead: "I'll have the story ready Monday for Tuesday" -- if the date of publication is Tuesday. I doubt if many of today's journalists have that mindset.

This next example -- from an ST commentary piece -- is trickier, and I suppose it requires the reader to be a military aviation buff:

The artist, in drawing an American fighter jet, thought all he needed to do was to stick in the US Air Force "identifier". Just look up the photos of actual USAF planes to get it right, right? But the artist pointed the star in the wrong direction! Here's how it should be depicted:

Moreover, it should only be on one side of the upper wing surface (the port, or left wing). The starboard (right) wing should have the words "USAF".

My final example is a rather silly caption in TODAY (Dec 11):

Wow. One secret to eternal life is to eat nuts seven or more times a week.

Actually, the article itself is very good and I recommend it, even if we will all eventually die:

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