Newspaper Typo image cropped

How Poor Editing and Proofreading Can Make Stories Look Like “Fake News”

I was always the girl who proofread the menu. Who noticed the errors in the church bulletin. But I didn’t expect, years ago, to find many errors in published content. In the professional world, collateral was carefully edited and proofread prior to publication. People lost their jobs for errors appearing in print. Clients would lose confidence.

Proofreading was not a particularly bankable profession, but I could do it in my sleep. Most companies cared how they presented themselves to the world, and how they were perceived.

If you make a mistake, all they will notice is the mistake

Hey, it was true for me. I noticed errors everywhere. I even remember finding a typesetting error in the Bible when I was a teenager. I circled it in red ink (without knowing that was how editors did it). I’m aware this puts me in a special category of annoying person. But haven’t we all had a client who is also that annoying person who will find the error? Can your business afford to skip this step?

The rise and fall of news editing

I worked for my college paper in the 1980s, and we put out four papers a week. We were up through the night to ensure the paper was clean before putting it to bed. Sure, the students made their own errors in the personal ads, but our articles were carefully reviewed because we wanted to be taken seriously.

Over the years, the news cycle has only become faster, and there is less time to review copy prior to publication (in print or online). But many writers in the past were used to someone else doing the editing, double-checking facts, and looking at the details, such as making sure the page number being referenced for the rest of the article was correct. Everyone had to become a one-man band, and shortcuts were taken. Research steps were skipped, and everyone knew you won’t find your own errors – that someone else needs to review the copy.

How can I tell if it’s ‘fake news’ or legit?

Well, I have my own ways of discerning some telltale signs of fake news, and I’ll keep my opinion to myself. But real news wants to be taken seriously, and used to have the care taken with the written word to ensure errors don’t provide distraction, confusion or take away legitimacy. Fake news of yore, like a poorly made counterfeit bill, may look like the real deal from a distance, but displays telltale signs of deception up close. There will be outright misspellings as well as typos, continuity and consistency issues, a lack of provenance, and other clues.

But what caused me to write this post was the plethora of errors I’ve seen in all forms of news in the past month or so. I’m a voracious reader, and include sources I like along with those I don’t. Most of these sources are established publications that admittedly have very little time to get this hot off the presses news onto many platforms. And just as I warn above, I’m finding that I question the professionalism and legitimacy of such poorly written and unedited copy. I’m distracted by the errors that make the author appear careless and/or uninformed. And I find I’m spending more time doing my own research because I don’t trust copy that is so sloppy.

If it’s just me, I’ll find another line of work…

…but I don’t think that’s the case. Surely the care taken to finish a written piece is worth something to both author and reader. To business and client. To you and me. Remember the carpenters’ motto: Measure twice, cut once. I think they’re on to something; if I cannot find work as an editor, perhaps I’ll find a carpentry apprenticeship.

A slightly less embarrassing scale-selfie

The Unbearable Heaviness of Being…

It’s not very PC to call myself heavy, and exactly two weeks after I began this (my 90th) diet I have already lost 6.2 pounds. I should I say I’ve hidden 6.2 pounds, and am hoping that I never find them again. I do have in mind a frenemy or two who I would like to find the hidden weight, but I’ll leave that work up to Karma.

Posting actual scale-selfies is mortifying, but I do find the fear of not being successful in my weight loss quest even more ulcer-inducing – hence I’m ok with it. I’ve been dieting off and on for decades, and have actually learned a lot of things along the way even though I always remained 20+ pounds above my goal. I’m a good rule-follower. I know what healthy, low-calorie fare is and how to prepare it. I know how to exercise (you lose calories even if you look like a moose doing many of them). What is it that has kept me from becoming that healthy, fit and more attractive version of myself for all these years? I suspect it has a lot to do with my fear of success rather than failure.

What if I lose all the weight, and nothing else changes? What if it turns out that not being thinner is not remotely what has kept me from having a successful romantic relationship? What if employers wouldn’t find me any more desirable – er – hireable as an average-sized woman? What if I don’t feel better inside or out? Where do I go from there?

It’s silly. I already know I’m not happy where I currently stand health-wise and weight-wise. I’ve already spent most of my adult life working on my job skills, my character, addressing my flaws, and trying to – as corny as it sounds – become the best person I can be. I’ve invested so much in me, I need to show more confidence in myself. I don’t judge others by their weight or physical attractiveness, but I can still appreciate it, and respect the work that goes into a healthy lifestyle. Now I just need to appreciate and respect that in me.

Yes I have messed-up runner's feet - no manicure can help them!

The Art of Burning 164,500 Calories

Well, “the diet” has officially started. I had to provide my starting weight, and boy it was even a couple pounds higher than it had ever been. No female who is overweight is jazzed about posting her weight in public, and I am no exception. But for the benefit of encouraging others, and proving others wrong when I finally lose the weight, I’ve posted it. It’s in the horrible picture on this page: 177.

Anyone who’s dieted a few times is likely familiar with the concept that one must burn more calories than one consumes in a day, in order to lose weight. These folks have also likely read that a pound is comprised of 3500 calories. As I’d like to get down to about 130 pounds, I must lose 47. That means I must take in 164,500 less calories than I burn off. Michael Phelps aside, most folks need an average of 2000 calories a day, higher or lower depending on sex (not if one is having sex, although that would burn calories too…), level of daily activity, metabolism, etc.

As a 48-year-old female, I fall into the “challenging” metabolism category. Generally, I have to climb three and a half mountains while carrying a 45-lb backpack to burn off one Krispy Kreme. So not worth it (unless they are hot). Some folks can just cut back on food to lose weight, but I must also work out a couple hours a day to make a dent in this Michelin Woman figure I’ve created. First-day motivation is easy – the healthier food is delicious, and I work out with the fervor that only the newly-active can muster. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I’ll need a lot to keep me going for the likely half a year I’ll be doing this.

Side effect #1 has already started – I’ve peed approximately 37 times since waking. I agree with the “drink 8 glasses of water a day” adage, but I’m already down one kidney, and my cat is trying to sit on me while I type this (natch she waits till I’m actually working on the computer). It feels like she’s targeting my bladder. Be right back.

Well, at least my physical activity increases from all the potty runs. And I get up early to walk five miles with a friend (unless the weather makes it too slippery to walk outside). Adding in another hour of exercise in the day should round things out nicely. I think I’m gonna make it through Day 1 without biting anyone’s head off. Of course I’ve been mostly alone, which benefits everyone. Let’s consider my remaining calorie debt to be 163,500.

The author with weighty thoughts

Is a Middle-Aged Woman Trying to Lose Weight in the New Year a Total Cliché?

The short answer is yes. But search engines want to hear more in a post. Besides, some of the best comedy has been born of the misery of the chronic dieter. I consider myself an expert on losing weight, as well as one on gaining it. I’m a bit more proficient at the latter.

It took a couple decades, but I eventually have tried most of the major weight loss programs out there. It so happens I look to accountability and the threat of humiliation to keep myself on track, so I am going public with my 2015 weight loss quest. You’ll get to see the before shots that have until now been deleted from every electronic device I own (and from some of those of people who weren’t aware I was prying on their phones and laptops). You’ll hear what is working for me. You’ll laugh as I try to turn back the hands of time and uneat all the pepperoni pizzas with extra cheese that got me in this mess in the first place. And you’ll see how I cleverly try to appear as a feminist who wants to be admired for who I am and not how I look, while simultaneously showing off how hot I look 45 pounds from now.

And don’t forget to remind me when the men who have heretofore rejected me start to act interested – if they didn’t like me as I am now, I don’t want to date them only because I lost weight. Because it’s been a awhile and I might forget that I made this promise to myself.

Will this millionth time dieting be the charm that works for me? Will the fear of failure on a social media-enlarged scale assist or derail me? Will anyone read this? I don’t know, but I am serious about trying. Because I’d like to get on with the business of writing about many other things that matter to me, and not just about how I am just another middle-aged, overweight woman who’s gonna make this the year I lose the weight.