Scott Elliott has a nice story in Sunday’s Indianapolis Star about the fact that the teaching of cursive handwriting is disappearing from elementary schools. It’s thoroughly reported, balanced, informative and nicely written. There’s just one problem, and probably not one that Elliott could do anything about.
In the print edition of the Star, the story starts with an anecdote –- in a font designed to look like handwriting — about a retired teacher who fell in love with cursive writing in the third grade. Now, it says, “she shutters at the thought that cursive might be … an endangered species.”
She shutters at the thought?
Elliott no doubt knows the difference between shuddering and shuttering. So, probably, does the graphic artist who designed the feature for Star’s front page. And we all make mistakes.
But remember that, just last month, Gannett Co. dumped 26 newsroom employees at the Star, including 12 copy editors, as part of a nationwide cost-cutting move. Star publisher Karen Crotchfelt told the Indianapolis Business Journal that most stories would simply get fewer edits as a result.
According to Star reporter and News Guild president Bobby King, the paper’s editor, Dennis Ryerson, insisted to the staff that eliminating a layer of copy editors wouldn’t hurt the quality of the news product – “something that seems truly an incredible statement to this reporter, who’s had his bacon saved more than once by a rim editor who’s caught a misspelled name or an errant fact before it could find the light of print,” King wrote on the guild’s blog.
Catching mistakes before they get to print isn’t glamorous work, but it’s crucial to a newspaper’s credibility. One hopes that publishers and editors would understand that.