Being one of the dwindling number of dinosaurs, I read the print edition of the Wisconsin State Journal essentially every morning. Monday morning, turning to the editorial page, I was disappointed to learn that the State Journal has apparently never embraced its role in exposing corruption in state government.
And there’s so much corruption to expose, these days.
The paper’s editorial yesterday morning was about the importance of whistle-blowers exposing fraud and corruption, and giving kudos to the guv for signing the “Whistleblower Protection Act”, which gives some protection to news sources who tip reporters to dirty dealing.
Like most papers, the State Journal provides “subheads” (newspaper folks probably have a name for these things, and I probably have it wrong) for people who just want a quick take on a story, to decide whether or not they want to read the entire story. The editorial was titled “Whistle-blowers welcome here”, and the sub-head said, in bold black print, “With the governor giving tipsters more protection, the State Journal is as anxious as ever to help citizens expose wrongdoing – wherever it may be found.”
Damn. And I thought the paper relished the role, particularly its victory in exposing all the political crooks in the so-called caucus scandal a few years back. (By the way…wanna bet on whether Scooter actually stands for retrial in Waukesha County?)
By now, some of you may have caught on to my ruse. Whoever wrote the sub-head for the editorial made one of the most common, entry-level writing mistakes, using the word “anxious” as though it meant the same thing as “eager.”
Even though “anxious” is incorrectly substituted for “eager” by casual speakers, Wisconsin’s second-largest daily newspaper shouldn’t make this common mistake. It’s another example of the mediocrity that’s become the hallmark of contemporary news media.
Every so often, when I hit a nerve in skewing the local media, somebody will go through my post and pick it apart, and expose errors I’ve made. Fair enough. I’m a one-man-band with a computer and an internet connection. I don’t have an editor, who theoretically would catch my mistakes.
Last week, one smiling local TV anchorette cheerily informed me, during a story about “LZ Lambeau”, that “LZ” stood for “landing zone, which is a safe place for soldiers to be.” Wanna ask any soldier who jumped out of a Huey at a landing zone during the Viet Nam War if it was a “safe place”?
Sunday night, a reporter for a TV network informed me that we were coming up on the “ten-year anniversary” of the 9-11 attacks. (Tenth anniversary, in English.)
Another told me oil was washing up on the shores of “four different states” in the south. (My friend GH is rolling his eyes at this one -“different” is superfluous here.)
I know I’m obsessive about this stuff, but common mistakes like these used to be far rarer in professional media.