Andrew Williams sent my pal Brandon Dingess a picture of two house ads in today’s sports section, advertising the Charlotte Observer and how to place a vacation stop for your Charlotte Observer.

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The problem? Andrew lives in Raleigh, not Charlotte. He was reading the Raleigh News & Observer, not the Charlotte Observer.

As I’ve written many, many times before: The McClatchy production center in Charlotte — where they design and edit three newspapers for which I’ve worked: The Observer, the News & Observer and the Rock Hill, S.C., Herald — seems to make these kinds of errors a lot.

I won’t show you every one in my collection — that would take way too long to compile — but among the humdingers we’ve seen in the Raleigh paper since their copy and design desks were combined:

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was called “Tim Stevens in a headline inside the A section.

Tim Stevens is a sportswriter for the Raleigh paper.

Longtime South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond was called “Thurman.”

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The NHL lockout was called a “strike” in a centerpiece headline on page one.

And the N&O‘s sports section used to be pristine. I was friends with the folks who put a huge amount of care into curating and editing every word that went into that section.

But after those folks lost their jobs and the Raleigh operation was moved to Charlotte, that same section has misspelled the name of the University of North Carolina’s football stadium

and its basketball arena

…and it confuses mascot names of ACC teams.

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I haven’t seen this posted anywhere else yet, but last week, someone sent me this picture of the N&O sports front identifying Greenville, N.C. — the home of East Carolina University and from which an N&O correspondent filed a story last Thursday night — as Greenville South Carolina.

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So, did this correspondent cover the game from the press box at East Carolina? Or did he file his story from a sports bar in Greenville, S.C., 350 miles away?

Don’t tell me it’s not important: Jayson Blair was fired from the New York Times for falsifying datelines on his stories. Did this correspondent falsify his dateline? Or is this yet another editing goof by the folks in Charlotte?

These errors are so rampant that some anonymous soul has established a Tumblr blog devoted to documenting the errors in the News & Observer. One example from a couple of weekends ago: This cutline describes a quarterback for Garner High School scoring a touchdown against… Garner High School.

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Sigh

Note that these are not design errors. These are all editing errors. And there’s no excuse at all for any of these.

As a former employee, I’m offended by this. As a newspaper editor, I’m offended by this. As a lover of print journalism who’s pained whenever a dumbass decision — in this case, to hub the editing of these papers — harms the credibility of the product we put in front of readers: I’m. Offended. By. This.

Come on, McClatchy. Either fix this problem or sell the papers to someone who’ll give a rat’s ass about quality journalism.

You clearly don’t.

<Mic drop> <Leaves soapbox for today>

This article has 2 comments

  1. James Michalowski

    Charles: It’s a problem nationwide. It’s very hard to hold staffers accountable when all newsrooms are short-staffed and underfunded. Locally, we cringe when reading the Norwich daily regardless of the fact they have a 5-person (oops, one just left) 4-person newsroom!

  2. Pingback: Copy editing in a hub: You’re your own QA « Grammar Guide « copydesk.org

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