Sloppy Journalism

sloppy journalism

I posted the first installment of embarrassing news writing here. Now it’s time for the second installment, which I’m calling “Sloppy Journalism.” If you thought the first collection of mindless mistakes from our for-some-reason-respected news agencies was funny, wait till you see this group. (Last time, I didn’t include links to the articles; this time I will.) (I can’t guarantee that all the links will work forever or that none of the errors were caught and fixed on the websites.) (Entries are in blue, my comments are in black.)

Sloppy journalism in body copy

Even then, Jensen said, “these subsequent jail terms maybe waived by probation if the defendant is in good standing” and abiding by the court’s probationary terms. >>

We had this maybe/may be issue in the last installment of sloppy journalism excerpts. It makes me sick to think that it maybecome a trend.


In a rarity for Juvenile Court, a group of Reynolds’ teachers plan to be in the courtroom Monday, hoping for a different outcome. >>

A group plans, not plan. The writer made the common mistake of connecting the verb to the closest noun (teachers) instead of to the subject of the sentence (group). (In the U.K., words like “group” are considered plural, so “plan” would be correct. But the article in which this mess appeared was from New Orleans.)


Fire Lt. Amy Parrinello said one of the female patients had a temperature of 107.5 degrees (42 Celsius), the highest she had ever seen in his 12-year career. (NOTE: link broken at time of posting)

Sounds like Parrinello transitioned right in the middle of the sentence!


The pregnant woman was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and evaluation, police said. >>

Hopefully the evaluation wasn’t life-threatening, either.


Joe Powell, her husband of 40 years, dropped her off with her 5 pound dog Miley to take him for a walk while he went parked his vehicle. >>

And Miley’s saying, “Look – you want me to walk, or park my vehicle? Make up your mind!” (Also: should be “5-pound dog”; Also: “went and parked” or “went to park“)


This stark contrast means, experts say, means the other shoe will have to drop sometime soon. >>

You gotta be pretty dumb to let this slip by.


How does Cam Newton — who was the 2o15 NFL MVP, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and is making $103.8 million on a five-year deal — not have the seat he wants to begin with? >>

You’d think the writer could have at least capitalized the “o” so that every single person who reads it except the writer and the editor wouldn’t immediately spot the error.


A pair of 3-year-old geldings sustained fatal injuries in separate incidents on Friday and Sunday as the embattled racetrack works and employ reforms to stem a rash of unprecedented horse deaths. >>

Have you ever seen six or seven racehorses colliding and tumbling to the ground and throwing their jockeys every which way? The part I underlined is the literary equivalent of that. Sloppy journalism at its best.


The district says a student took their own life and was found in a bathroom during school today (Friday). >>

Maybe the poor student had multiple personalities. Of course, I jest. What happened here is either the writer was told not to reveal the gender of the deceased, or the writer didn’t want to pin the deceased down to a specific gender as the deceased may have had a last-minute change of mind as to what gender it was.


A Middle Georgia woman allegedly shot at her parents after he father wouldn’t change the television channel from the University of Georgia football game on Saturday, the Macon Telegraph reported. >>

Assuming nobody proofed the story after the writer turned it in, this is just a case of not hitting the “r” and spell-check not catching it. On a more serious note, knowing how people in Georgia love their Bulldogs, I’m surprised the parents didn’t shoot the daughter for daring to suggest dad change the channel. I know if this had happened in Texas during the annual Longhorns vs. Sooners game, the daughter definitely would have been shot—or worse, sent to live in Oklahoma.


In its apology letter to the community earlier this month, Superintendent Rick Schmitt said the district discouraged such “inaccurate and hurtful rumors” after the drowning, including in an email it sent to parents shortly after Ben’s death. >>

Now, here’s a writer who’s so PC, he/she/it couldn’t even use the correct-gender pronoun to refer to obviously-male Rick. But then, this is from San Jose, so it’s possible there are all kinds of women up there named Rick, so maybe the writer wasn’t sure and erred on the side of caution.


“Given that the rationale for (the) defendant remaining at liberty pending appeal has expired, post-sentence bail is revoked,” Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy write in ordering Kane to report to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. >>

I had a teacher named Mrs. Gryde when I was in fifth grade who would have yelled at me if I ever write anything like that.


Autopsy reports confirmed that Elywn Crocker, Jr., who would be 16-year-old by now, had been buried for at least two years, while Mary had been buried for months. >>

I would have just gone on with “had been buried for at least two year, while Mary had been buried for month.”


Investigators also found photos of Douglas sleeping in Ramsay’s phone and a journal describing fantasies about strangulation. >>

When Apple gets wind of this, they’re going to release a bed-sized phone.


Headlines and subheads

Two giraffes at a Florida wildlife park died were killed instantly last month when they were struck by lightning as a storm rolled through the area, park officials announced Tuesday. >>

The mistake is pretty bad, but you can see where the writer was going: “were killed instantly” is more dramatic than “died.” The original wording most likely was “died last month,” but the writer chose to up the drama and then got a great idea for a selfie and forgot to take out “died.”


Delaware accused of raping woman after posing as ride-share driver, police say >>

Above is the way it read when I copied it. As I wrote this commentary months later, I went back there to see if there were any clues to what the hell the writer was thinking, and I found that somebody caught it and added “man” after “Delaware.” That’s good, because I was trying to figure out how Delaware could rape anybody, and worse, how it could get away and not be found. It’s not like it could hide under a box or in a dark alley.


Right Wing Extremist Who Plowing His Car into Crowd Found Guilty of Murdering Heather Heyer >>

This is the kind of sloppy journalism that you can look at for five minutes and still not understand how it (the writing error, not the murder) could happen. (And “Right-wing” or “Right-Wing,” not “Right Wing.)


Okay, that’s enough. More to come as long as the news marches ahead.



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