Deck previously established this set of rules for their endeavor:
We would attack only errors in the public domain. Personal correspondence wasn’t and shouldn’t be our business.
We would not beat up on non-native speakers of English.
We only cared about text, which remains in place for all to see. We had no desire to correct people’s speech.
And finally, our guiding principle:
We would not be jerks. There are plenty of people who mock others for their mistakes. We wanted the errors eradicated, but it was not our place to pass judgment on those who had made them.
The book has been getting a lot of attention from the press—watch the pair on the Today show—and that’s inevitably leading to more errors about who they are and what they do. It’s fitting because their book includes a chapter about mistakes in the media. I asked Deck if his work as a typo hunter had left him with advice to offer journalists.
“My advice to journalists at large is to not throw the copy editor overboard, which seems to be happening,” he says. “But if the copy editors have been let go, I think it’s important for journalists to have some kind of training in being their own copy editors and being able to step back from their text before they file—to read through and check things against notes and reputable sources. Just build in a little time to make sure the text is in good shape.”
And beware of calling someone a self-described grammar vigilante if they haven’t actually described themselves that way.
Correction of the Week
“IN A report yesterday, Body Found in Marina Glen, we incorrectly stated that police discovered the body of King William’s Town teacher Themba Malgas. In fact it was the body of Simphiwe Malgas. Themba is Simphiwe’s father and is alive. We regret the error.” – Daily Dispatch (South Africa)