I stopped reading newspapers when I lived in Atlanta. The sheer volume of typos-per-article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution made it impossible for me to pay attention to the content.
Those unfortunate souls who found themselves in my vicinity while I ranted wildly and gnashed my teeth over an offending article no doubt thought of me as a nudge, at best, and an insufferable, rhymes-with-witch at worst.
As a copywriter by trade, and the daughter of an English teacher by birth, my grammar-spasms are all but involuntary. I have an unabashed love of words and language. To see both treated as carelessly as they are these days saddens me in a way that is inconceivable to most. Words are thrown around without thought, bastardized and then pounded into the vernacular (the loathsome “conversate” springs to mind here).
Even such websites as CNN and The New York Times have their share of daily typos. But there are scant few of us who notice, much less care. There are, of course, a few and most of them would chastise me for starting sentences with prepositions (originally typed “propositions,” oops), and writing in a conversational tone that breaks at least a few of the golden grammar rules.
I guess that makes me both a renegade and an anachronism, and I’ll accept that. But as they say, you have to know the rules before you can break them. I had also accepted that typos are now part and parcel of reporting. Then, a couple of weeks ago I read an article that made me think I might not be alone in fighting for the words I love. Its title, “Why 'Amercia' needs copy editors,” set my cold, dark heart aflutter.
Because it’s true. And it’s long, long overdue. I currently have a proofreader sitting just a few desks to my right. And before this piece goes anywhere else, it will go to him, for scrubbing and a general once-over to make sure any mistakes are caught, corrected and/or debated.
Sadly, however, I am not a journalist. Nope. Not me. I am an advertising copywriter for an interactive advertising agency. And the fact that you will find far fewer typos and basic grammar mistakes in ad copy than you will in any article is pathetic. (The, mercifully, now defunct tag line “where you at?” notwithstanding.) To be clear, none of my vitriol is aimed at the journalists themselves. I understand that they are caught in a ruthless 24-hour news cycle, and it is almost impossible to accurately copy edit your own work.
Many of you, if you’re still reading this, are thinking “So what? Everyone knows that ‘ur’ means both your and you’re.”
Well, I’ll tell you what.
Today’s middle and high school students have a terrifyingly limited knowledge of basic language, and, worse, they don’t care. I have received resume cover letters that employ “text speak.” A candidate’s sign off on an otherwise unremarkable cover letter was, “I’ll call you 2moro to discuss.” The hell you will. Call all you want, there is nothing to discuss.
Our marketers are being held to a higher standard than our journalists, or at least given more grammatical support. If you don’t find that scary in and of itself, then, I fear, all hope is lost. It could be that I am the equivalent to those in the Victorian-era hearing “could not” as “couldn’t” for the first time and fearing the end of the world, and civilization, as they knew it.
But I am of the opinion that if we can’t, or won’t, hold our professional journalists to even the basic rules of writing, then we can’t possibly impart to our students that there’s more to writing than Spell Check. While Spell Check will ensure that you spell “pubic” correctly, it offers no port in the storm if you actually meant to thank a “public” official. Something to think about.
Language is both beautiful and powerful. There’s a running joke in the industry that no one reads copy anymore. My question is this: Is that because they don’t want to, or can’t?
P.S. As always, I asked Bill, our steadfast proofreader, to take a look at this before it landed in your inboxes. There were eight things that jumped out at him. And, I daresay, he was right eight times.
We have some new faces in the Euro Discovery office, and we would like to welcome our newest employees Brent Hartings, Kristin Schields, and Ben LaBar. All three newbies have specific areas of interest and talent that will help add to our full service digital agency.
Brent Hartings is our new Email Marketing Manager. Prior to joining Euro, Brent was managing email operations at Groupon in Chicago and oversaw the execution of all channel (Getaways, Goods, Now!, etc.) and life-cycle email campaigns. He initially worked at Groupon as an on-site Euro resource, so this is his second stint with us. Even though Brent is happy to be moving to Baltimore, he still holds a grudge against the city for stealing Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds.
Joining the team as our new Account Supervisor is Kristin Schields. Kristin’s previous experience includes work at BBDO New York and GKV Communications, working on integrated advertising campaigns across multiple channels such as TV, print, radio, digital, and more. When she’s not hard at work, Kristin enjoys the occasional sushi roll and playing volleyball.
Our final new hire is Ben LaBar, who joins us as our new Account Executive. Ben joins us from Philly having previously worked at ADP, where he worked as an account analyst in their benefits administrative division. It is there that he honed the client management skills we are excited to have on our team. Ben enjoys playing ice hockey and following Philadelphia sports.