Friday, February 27, 2009

Paper of Record

I have noticed for some time now that standards are slipping in the Paper of Record. I was tempted to start an Irish Times Watch, but the volume of material would probably get me down and I have better things to do with my time.

Instead I thought I'd just draw attention to the occasional snippet for the delectation/depression of my readers.

Mr O'Neill identified Mr Mackin as the man who shot Mr Burns and then shot him.
(final sentence of report)

Question: of the three men mentioned above who survived the encounter?

Parents of boy with autism seek meeting with Cowen on his education

Question: Whose education?

Elan net loss falls 82% on rising Tysabri sales
07:18 Pharmaceutical company Elan has reported a fall of 82 per cent in its net loss for 2008, helped by a strong fourth quarter performance and rising sales of its multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri

Comment: Sub-editors should always avoid double negatives, even in the heat of breaking news. The item, when subsequently fleshed out for the real paper, read more sensibly:

The group said a deferred tax benefit of $236.6 million in the United States helped it record a net loss of $71 million last year versus a $405 million loss in 2007.

At least it made it clear that we were talking about a smaller loss, but, unlike the earlier upmarket version which attributed the improvement to a strong fourth quarter performance and rising sales, the later version attributed the major part of the improvement to a deferred tax benefit in 2008.

Satellite error caused delay in search for boat

Comment: Impression is given that the Satellite was at fault. In fact it was a clerical error by a human operative on the ground.

Limited consequences for ex-board members Former Anglo non-executive directors Senior Business Correspondent

Comment: What in God's holy name does that headline mean. Read the article and see if you agree with the Sub who composed the headline.

Chevalier de l’ordre Nationale de Merité
(3rd last para)

Comment: My early years in school predated the "cló Rómhanach" version of the Irish language. In order to cover ourselves in homework and exams, we used to introduce the "wandering buailte", a sort of a dot over a word that could be invoked as a lenition sign for any consanant which might subsequently prove to have needed it. The "errant fada", however, is a completely new one on me. And in French, no less. As for the possessive "de", this is always a problem for non-French speakers. Capitalisation is another matter entirely. Meanwhile the grammar defies exegesis.

The Irish Nationwide spokesman said last night he had received no response from the building society to a list of questions e-mailed to the mutual society by The Irish Times.

Comment: Surely it is the Irish Times which is expecting a response to its questions?

Derek Scally, reporting on remarks from Jurgen Stark (German member of ECB Council) penned the following the Irish Times (21/6/11):

The Central Bank saw upside risks to price stability indicating another imminent interest rate rise, but insisted the crisis remained contained in peripheral countries.

My first reaction was that surely he meant "downside" risks, as in a likely unfavourable outcome (being a rise in inflation). In other words down was up as far as I was concerned. But before I launched off into a diatribe here I thought I'd better look it up, and found the entry below in Wictionary

upside (plural upsides)

1. the highest or uppermost side or portion of something
2. a favourable aspect of something that also has an unfavourable aspect
3. an upward tendency, especially in a financial market etc

I still think I'm right when you actually parse what he said. Grammatically he was talking about the risk to price stability and not the fall or rise in prices. However the impression left is confusing. The tendency (in the indicator) is upside, but the risk is downside.

It is not clear whether the fault is Scally's or Stark's as the sentence is in indirect speech and not in quotation marks.

Eigher way that's what comes of not teaching grammar in the schools anymore.


DeMa said...

What's even more annoying is that it's so easy to check nowadays on the web, as your link demonstrates.
Why not check instead of making it up?? Tsk tsk

Póló said...

There are two types of journalists: those who seek headlines and those who seek truth.

The latter will phone the subject (or look it up rather than make it up) while the former will not.

Póló said...

In the interest of fairness I should point out that the Paper of Record is actually on a steep learning curve.

Sheila Pratschke has been awarded the French Ordre National du Mérite, and the paper has got it right this time round.

It would be too much to hope that they read this blog.

Anyway congratulations to Sheila for a well deserved award and to the Irish Times for getting it right.