Oh for crying out loud, use a dictionary already


Let me start by saying that I am not fanatically devoted to the idea that people, in general, ought to be good (much less perfect) spellers. Nor do I believe that correct grammar is required to lead a wildly successful life.

Am I wrong in expecting that the news media should set the bar a little higher for themselves?

This is something that has long been a source of annoyance for me. It calls into question the very trustworthiness of the news media, especially when it not only quotes, but repeats without question that which they’ve been told. As it relates to the present, the thing that’s attracted my ire is the blind repetition of the term “carabineer” by media outlets in connection with the tragic incident at Lifest 2007. This is not so different than the phrase “bungee ride” that I had previously complained about.

I’m not a climber, and I’m certainly not a reporter, but let’s face it: “carabineer” is an unusual word. Even if it does pass an automated spelling check, one would think that it should at least trigger a quick peek into a favorite dictionary. Online versions are readily available if one is ever caught without a printed copy.

This isn’t the only inaccuracy I’ve seen in reports on the subject. You can lay a fair amount of blame on the Department of Commerce report, which is of course the source of the spelling error above. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s incumbent on reporters to check spelling and grammar just as well as they check the facts.

PS – Google is not a dictionary. I simply adore many things that Google has done, but beware of using standard screwdrivers to turn Torxâ„¢ heads.

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