Ovation: It’s Never Too Late For Proof Reading.
When I was in high school, I was an assistant editor for the school newspaper. I had several responsibilities including helping with the layout of each issue and writing “filler” articles but my function was primarily that of “proof reader”. I’ve always been considered a good proof reader and I take a great deal of pride in my abilities. Over the years, I’m certain that there has been more than one typo that I overlooked but so far it hasn’t taken more than one hundred sixty years to find one.
In yesterday’s edition of The New York Times, a correction to an article that originally appeared on January 20, 1853 was published after a Twitter user unearthed an old article from The Times archives. The article in question told the story of Solomon Northup, a free African-American man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery … the same story upon which 12 Years a Slave, the movie based on Northup’s memoir that won the best picture Oscar at last Sunday’s Academy Awards, was based.
The problem was that the 1853 article spelled Northup’s name two different ways … it appeared as “Northrop” in the body of the article and “Northrup” in the headline.
After the Oscars focused attention on the story, and the Twitter user brought the error to light on Monday, it spread quickly on social media.
My proof reading skills are certainly not as sharp as they once were, what with the invention of spell check and auto-correct, but I still like to think that the last part of writing is re-reading. I fear that far too many writers forget this final step. Proof reading, after all, is just as important today as it was in 1853.
Are you a good proof reader?
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