In a recent After Deadline Blog post (Newsroom Notes on Usage and Style) entitled ‘Getting Guns Right,’ the New York Times’ Philip B. Corbett acknowledged something The People of the Gun have known virtually since they could read. He quoted a correction the Times recently ran:
A picture caption on Thursday for a special report about Americans’ relationship with guns referred incorrectly to the gun that an 8-year-old boy used to kill his first turkey. It was a 20-gauge shotgun, not a .20-gauge.
In one sense, it’s a tiny lapse — an unnecessary decimal point. But it’s the type of error that might leave some skeptical readers wondering whether we know what we’re talking about on this subject.
Wait. You mean the Grey Lady has been expounding on subjects about which it knows, well, next to nothing? . . .
Say it ain’t so! And no, that wasn’t a porcine aviator buzzing past your window. Probably just some long-dead journalism professor spinning in his grave so fast he took flight.
Corbett recounts recent examples of gun pig-ignorance ripped from the Times’ pages; .9mm ammo, rifles in photos ID’d as shotguns, .22mm guns nabbed at TSA checkpoints. The usual firearms flubs easily made by scribes (and passed on by editors) whose closest contact with a gun has been yanking the trigger on a Super Soaker.
And he completely sidesteps more slantingly substantive errors such as reflexively regurgitating the Gun Control Industrial Complex’s long-debunked claim that 90% of Americans are in favor of universal background checks. Baby steps, though, right?
So what’s Corbett’s solution to these credibility-sapping screw-ups?
These are avoidable mistakes. We should always refer to The Times’s stylebook or another reference to check these details.
Problem solved. Next?