• What they meant to say
As a former newspaper editor. I’m well aware of the problems that
can be encountered when trying to craft a correction. Sometimes it’s worse than the original error because of convoluted language. Sometimes you have to explain so much because the error was rooted in complex language and simplifying it would render the correction gibberish.
Great examples of such problems are published at the end of each year by a Web site called Regret the Error, which is a great read anytime of the year.
Here is 2008’s “correction of the year” and some contender for the title.
Humor columnist Dave Barry chose to correct a misspelling he made in a column published by the Miami Herald this way:
“In yesterday’s column about badminton, I misspelled the name of Guatemalan player Kevin Cordon. I apologize. In my defense, I want to note that in the same column I correctly spelled Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarak, Poompat Sapkulchananart and Porntip Buranapraseatsuk. So by the time I got to Kevin Cordon, my fingers were exhausted.”
• From The Age in Melbourne, Australia:
“An article in last week’s Sunday Age, ‘Born to be, um, mild — and possibly damp,’ contained views about biker groups that were inserted in the editing process. As well, the survey of motorcyclists who rode for about three hours every weekend found that many had problems emptying their bladders. The story stated that bike riders could be ‘bedwetters.’ The error was made during editing.
• From the Washington Times:
“Friday’s ‘Pruden on Politics’ column quoted a spokesman for the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv saying the newspaper had been encouraged by the Barack Obama campaign to publish a written prayer left by Mr. Obama in Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall and retrieved by an onlooker. A second Ma’ariv spokesman and the Obama campaign dispute the first Ma’ariv spokesman’s account, and the newspaper refuses to comment further. The column also said the Obama campaign posted a video about the candidate’s visit to Jerusalem on the Internet site YouTube. The video appears to have been posted by an independent blogger who inserted a counterfeit ‘Paid for by Obama for America’ sign-off.”
• From The New York Times:
“A film review on Sept. 5 about ‘Save Me’ confused some characters and actors. It is Mark, not Chad, who is sent to the Genesis House retreat for converting gay men to heterosexuality. (Mark is played by Chad Allen; there is no character named Chad). The hunky fellow resident is Scott (played by Robert Gant), not Ted (Stephen Lang). And it is Mark and Scott — not ‘Chad and Ted’ — who partake of cigarettes and ‘furtive man-on-man action’.”
• From The Guardian of London:
“We said that, in the American TV drama ’24,’ Jack Bauer, the counter-terrorism agent, resorted to electrocution to extract information. You cannot extract information from someone who has been electrocuted because they are dead.”
• From the Press and Journal (UK):
We have been asked to point out that Stuart Kennedy, of Flat E, 38 Don Street, Aberdeen, who appeared at Peterhead Sheriff Court on Monday, had 316 pink, frilly garters confiscated not 316 pink, frilly knickers.
• Best Headline Error:
“The American Family Association’s ‘OneNewsNow’ site has a standard practice of using the word ‘homosexual’ instead of ‘gay.’ They even set up a filter to automatically make the change. This didn’t serve ONN well when a sprinter named Tyson Gay made news at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials. He suddenly became Tyson Homosexual when the site’s filter got a hold of an AP story.”
There are many more examples from news outlets around the globe. Just go to Regret the Error‘s site.