Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Those pesky apostrophes

I've written before that proofreading at the Courier has improved markedly over the years I've been writing this blog, but that's the sort of territory easily lost to inattention. I'm sure most of my readers would bug out quickly if faced with a daily litany of proof complaints, so I generally let them pass. But when the headlines display ignorance of the basics. I have to say something, even though I know most of my readers can see it as well as I can.

Today the problem is painfully wrong apostrophes on the op-ed page, one buried in Tom Cantlon's column — "It's more like a couple who own an apartment complex and one wants to add to it to increase it's revenue, ...." — but the other really glaring in the editorial headline — "State can't shun it's fiscal burden."

Last I knew you can't pass the ninth grade without the ability to distinguish between the contraction "it's" and the possessive "its." You definitely can't land a paycheck as an entry-level proofreader. Seeing this get by a suite of pro newspaper editors is just embarrassing to the profession.

Boilerplate: Why does it matter? Inattention to details like this indicates disregard for clarity of communication, sloppiness of thought, and low regard for readers, editors and the publication itself, all alarming qualities in people we depend on to inform us about the conditions, needs and actions of our community.

Update, 8:30pm: Someone corrected the headline fail in the online edition, but not the one in Tom's column. This is an improvement over the policy not so long ago of not bothering at all.