Monday, January 30, 2006

Copy Edit the World

Accuracy and attention to detail are important for all kinds of writing, so budding media writers need to hone their proofreading and editing skills. That's why I assign students to "Copy Edit the World," an exercise which offers credit for finding and correcting errors (typos, AP style errors, etc.) in newspapers, magazines, web pages, and other published materials. (Thanks to Frank E. Fee Jr. of UNC-Chapel Hill for this exercise.)

Every semester, I award bonus points to the students who find the most egregious and embarrassing errors. Last fall, Charlene Crooks won my "worst of show" award for a JMC convocation committee fundraising letter, sent to JMC alumni and friends, in which she found not one but two sentence fragments. Ouch!

Fall '05 Copy Edit the World honorable mentions included:
  • a billboard outside a drug store saying "See are new store!" submitted by Kyle Hansen.
  • a postcard advertising "hot imported European beds" (we figured maybe they were stolen), submitted by Victoria Gothot.
  • a tag on a container of lime juice saying it was "natural strenght," submitted by Seychelle Martinez.
For a more recent example, here's a Mercury News article that shows what can happen when when errors go uncaught. Yes, it's called public humiliation.

No comments: