Once upon a time, a young blogger (*cough* me *cough*) was writing about a popular actress from a sci-fi fantasy television show and credited this star for being featured in a film about giant locusts. Only thing was, this particular thespian never starred in such a film. Whoops. Of course, this “whoops” did not go unnoticed by her legions of fans, who somehow got my email and made sure I knew how wrong I was. But that’s not all… Soon the comments section of the blog was filled with delightful words like “hack” and “moron.” It was a lesson in blog writing I need to learn: Always double-check your facts.
Yet even the most savvy purveyors of blog creation make blunders from time to time. Even publications with hundreds on staff make mistakes. Even The New York Times. As pointed out by the bloggers at NPR, The Gray Lady ran the following correction earlier this week:
“A critic’s notebook article on Monday about the prevalence of standing ovations at Broadway shows described incorrectly the quickness with which audience members appeared to be on their feet at a performance of the current revival of Death of a Salesman. Their ovation seemed to occur within a millisecond — one-thousandth of a second — not a megasecond, which is one million seconds.”
This typo, as noted by NPR, was of the educational, “who knew?” variety. Readers who read the correction might have learned the difference between milli and mega. Plus, no one, as far as we know, took the Broadway critic to the rack for mixing up the two. Of course, the NPR blog was peppered with some comments from readers who said things like, “As a writer, he should have known better,” but all in all there was no harm done.
The great thing about making mistakes in the digital age is that they can be fixed pretty fast. Just the other day, I misspelled a name and within moments my editor and swooped in with ninja-like speed and made it all better. (For the record, I do know the difference between the tart fruit marionberry and reformed crack smoking mayor Marion Barry.) And yet, for all of our technological advancements, we haven’t figured out the one problem that plagues writers: simply being human. And thank goodness for that. Bloggers will continue to make flubs and print corrections and repeat as long as there are actual people behind the keyboard. There isn’t a “milli” or “mega” typo that can’t be fixed with a published correction.