Copy Error Hall Of Shame

In addition to correcting errors of fact, spelling, punctuation, and standard grammar errors (among others), a copy editor often has to decipher what on earth a writer was trying to convey with their prose. Sometimes it's fairly easy to do, other times, it's darn near impossible. Those are the times when a copy editor will have to make a choice: contact the writer directly and ask, take their best guess, or just delete the incoherent material entirely.

Following are some examples I have come across on the web, all of which came from reputable news sites. How would you have copy edited these?
  • "Barack Obama's twitter account sent out a message late tonight urging his supporters to put pressure on the Charles and David Koch–the wealthy libertarian business–to disclose the list of contributors to Americans for Prosperity, their main vehicle for political activism."
  • "And infotech and energy were the two sectors were they placed their best most heavily in Q4 relative to Q3."
  • "Obama was also asked about the potential public backlash America's to a strike by Israel that could result in Iranian action against America target to which he responded: 'I think we in the United States instinctively sympathize with Israel.'"
  • A man with a 72-foot antique ship in his Newport Beach yard has been warned that he'd been ship out.
  • Finally, we modeled the average cost of a night booked on Airbnb rose from $95 in 2009 to $100 in 2010 to $110 in 2011. 
  • (Bloomberg) -- Harvard and Cornell universities have joined Yale University and Dartmouth College in cracking down on out-of-control behavior  as drinking, hazing and sexual harassment, endanger students and tarnish Ivy League reputations.

And sometimes you find things that writers should be ashamed of themselves for even writing in the first place:
  • "Haley Kovacik, a friend who talked with Lane a few times a week, said the violence left she and others who knew him in 'complete shock.'"
  • The judge's daughter, Alexandra Lester, 26, a member of the Florida Bar, said she has never saw her father agonize over a ruling.
  • This would provoke credit default swaps to be payed out.
  • Today on his radio show, Limbaugh went after NOW, the National Organization of Woman.
  • As former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith's resignation letter made its waves across Wall Street yesterday, many were trying to gather as more telling details about the derivative trader's past.
  • If Dwight would have went to Brooklyn, so would Williams ...
  • ... it only provides financing the the market ain't or won't provide itself.
  • A headline: There Is The Only Thing Standing Between The Economy And Recession
  • The Ball That Continued The Red Socks Curse
    The ball that Red Socks player Bill Buckner will forever be remembered for allowing it to roll through his legs sold for $418,250 at auction. 
    The error didn't happen in just any game. It was Game Six of the 1986 World Series at Shea Stadium. Mookie Wilson hit the ball out to first-baseman Buckner and the error allowed the New York Mets to clinch a victory and go on to win the series. 
    The Red Socks continued their world series drought another 18 years until 2004.
  • The White House spokesman said no other vehicles from the motorcade was involved.
  • He said that for nearly two hours, he'd tried to but been unable to talk with union president Karen Lewis. 

Then of course there are the truly embarrassing mistakes, like this one:

 (It's still in the web version of the magazine article, as well.)
    Share some of your favorite errors from around the web in the comments below!

    1 comment:

    1. After reading this, I stop feeling bad as a non-native English writer.