The gradation of journalistic offenses is a steep one. A journalist won’t fall far if he, say, fails to spell out an unfamiliar acronym on first reference or adds an s to toward. Upon committing such “misdemeanors,” a seasoned journalist learns a lesson and moves on. The world forgets. Near the top of the gradation, however, forgiveness isn’t as absolute; plagiarize, fabricate or commit a similar “crime” and expect to face the proverbial firing squad.
Today’s wrongdoing falls somewhere between those two
extremes, albeit closer to ground level, where permanent damage is unlikely.
The offense is worse than using it’s
when the situation calls for its, but it
pales next to a Rolling Stone-esque
breakdown in which source material isn’t vetted and claims aren’t substantiated.
Professors drill nascent journalists to spell names
correctly and to be extra cautious when composing headlines, which draw considerable
The writer who crafted the headline pictured below forgot the
drill. He swung once and, from a journalistic perspective, earned two strikes —
something unheard of in baseball.
If at first you don’t succeed, try … try McCann.
Putting a G where
a C needed to be created a glaring,
above-the-fold mistake. Still, suffering minor “head” trauma is preferable to
damaging your reputation. Just ask James Frey or Brian Williams.