Monday, 1 December 2008

The editor strikes back

Driven to distraction by (apparently) falling standards, associate editor Simon Heffer of The Daily Telegraph sent a memo to the newspaper's staff. The Guardian, known for the occasional typo*, picked up his email and shared it with the world. Here's a snippet.

I have no idea what Heffer sounds like but when I read this all I can hear is Stephen Fry.

Dear Colleagues

I have exhorted you all to read carefully what you write. I think some of you are now doing this, but not always thinking about what it is that you read. This can be the only explanation for this week's worst horror (and, sadly, there is some competition). We ran a story in Tuesday's paper about a farmer's wife who died of a heart attack after a thief stole diesel from her farm. This unfortunate lady was called Mrs Dove. Her son is called Michael Dove. In the story he became Michael Gove; who happens to be the Conservative spokesman on schools. You might think this could hardly get worse. I fear it could, and did.


There have been so many literals this week that I suspect some of you either never could spell, or have given up trying. Perhaps my favourite was "hocky mom", followed by "plumb compote" (bring on the lead poisoning). One reader, having spotted the words "Chrsitmas" and "adminsitration" in the same story wondered whether our newsroom was now being run by "mnokeys". While it is good to provide the customers with amusement, it should be intentional. Grammar remains a treacherous slope. There is still a difficulty with conjugating the verb "to drink". Be in no doubt: the beer was drunk, but the man drank the beer. Page 6 of our modest but robust little style book contains a description of the difference between "may" and "might". They are not interchangeable, oddly enough. Do feel free to have a look at it.

* a.k.a. The Grauniad


Anonymous said...

I've just read his whole email - what a classic! I love spelling & grammar howlers (as you know).

Regarding the redundancy; I hope you get it (and I'm sure that's what you really want) and get the opportunity to exercise your muscular foot and glide on back north. There's lots more fun and sun up here.


Snail said...

I know how the poor man must feel. And in the Torygraph too!

Yes, I'm hoping for a redundancy. Not long now ...