(WRITING) WE ALL MAKE MISTRAKES

By Jug Varner

One thing you learn early in the “writing for publication” business (whatever the medium) is how difficult it is to catch your own mistakes. It is difficult enough to see such typo errors on paper, but it seems especially evasive when reading a computer screen. That's why we need a good editor to make us look smarter than we are.

The photo on the right was used on the Internet some time back with a story about the new USS Ronald Reagan. Its caption is a good example of a print error, but it probably did go through an editor who simply missed it — or didn't know the difference: They occasionally do that, you know.

I could write a small book on this subject, based on my own experiences over the years, particularly when I first became a Navy Public Information officer (now known as Navy Public Affairs) after the Korean War ended. Following a tour of recruiting duty, my first job as a PIO was at NTC San Diego, where among other things we published a weekly tabloid newspaper. It was during a frequent money-crunch time in the military, with many trained personnel leaving the services, including most of my qualified journalists.

Fortunately, we were able to snare a few talented boot camp graduates now and then, and with the able assistance of Chief Journalist Jack Broward we set up our own on-the-job training program. Eventually we evolved into a good crew, but the road to perfection was filled with editorial pot holes in the form of goofed up headlines, wrong captions under photos, misspelled words, etc. — despite double and triple proofreading. Unfortunately some of them were proofing their own copy. We eventually got respectable, but it wasn't easy.

There were many funny results along the way.

Today, the average high school graduate can't write a decent sentence, much less a story. College graduates don't fare much better. It makes me wonder what kind of English teachers we have in the system and what has happened to this one-time high requirement to qualify for graduation? Slang has so diversified our everyday conversations that our language is losing its beauty and meaning. The word “slang” surely must mean “sloppy-Anglo.”