It’s called "proofreading", give it a shot why don’t you, episode 2

A Reuters article from last week includes the sentence

That annual regulatory filing also introduced a so-called "anti-pledging" provision that prevented further loans to company directors, executives and employees using stock as collaterol.


Now, sure, this is an article about a pharmaceutical company, so maybe "collaterol" looks like an expensive new drug.

But still. Four authors, a contributor, two editors, and two updates later, and still nobody has fixed it.

Comments (23)
  1. chrisd says:

    I'm pretty sure collaterol is the generic version of Miketicin.

  2. Burov Dmitry says:

    Last years Reuters is very far from what it was in XX century

    No facts checking and no proofreading perhaps suits their audience.

  3. > … to company directors, executives and employees …

    Also, the Oxford comma.

  4. MV says:

    Collaterol is the first "cloud-based" drug: instead of buying the pills, you actually just purchase a license to use them.  If you don't pay enough (or otherwise fail to comply with the EULA), the manufacturer can take the pills back.

  5. dp says:

    It has been posited that big news organisations intentionally put misspellings, grammatical errors and punctuation errors in articles. It helps them identify those who plagiarize their content.

  6. Eric says:

    I guarantee that if anyone was taken to task about this oversight blame would fall upon deficient spell-checking software.

  7. GWO says:

    Without wishing to bury the lead — welcome to the great sub-editors debate.  As margins are squeezed in traditional media, and the distance between journalist filing and publication decreases (to the point of almost varnishing) you'll find independent proofreading has simply become obselete.  So errors that used to be caught now turn up in published copy. This is especially true of old-school journalists who's work was always corrected before publication.

    [Sub-editors – Please find and correct the five intentional errors in the above]

  8. Yuri Khan says:

    Why’d you want to give shots to proofreading?

  9. Yuri Khan says:

    @GWO: 1. double hyphen in place of dash; 2. non-breaking space after a regular space; 3. superfluous comma between media and and; 3. va<del>r</del>nishing; 4. missing comma after closing parentheses; 5. obs[e/o]lete, 6. one more double space that may or may not display ugly when line is broken exactly at that point; 7. who’s/whose; 8. hyphen in place of dash; 9. five intentional/nine.

  10. Adrian says:

    @Gwo:  Challenge accepted.

    1.  The idiom in U.S. journalism is "bury the lede" not "bury the lead."

    2.  Need an apostrophe in "sub-editors' debate."

    3.  Need a comma after the parenthesized phrase to set off the second part of the dependent clause from the independent clause.

    4.  Correct spelling of "obsolete."

    5.  Starting a sentence with "So," a coordinate conjunction, isn't usually appropriate in formal writing.  You can delete "So" to make the sentence stand alone.  Since that sentence also follows logically from the previous, you can combine them by (1) inserting a comma and making "So" lowercase or (2) deleting "So" and replacing the period with a colon or semicolon.

    6.  The possessive pronoun is "whose" not "who's".

    Of these, I'm guessing the #5 was not one you intended.

  11. Nick says:

    …and they spell the word correctly previously in the article.  I pasted the article into Word, and sure enough, it found the misspelled "collaterol."

  12. David Totzke says:

    Hartman's Law of Prescriptive Retaliation:

    Any article or statement about correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling is bound to contain at least one eror.

  13. Dave says:

    Collateral is a creme used to deal with cellulite.  It's recommended for topical application, usually sells for about $30-40 a tub.  It's made from fresh Cornish ram's bladder, emptied, steamed, flavoured with sesame seeds whipped into a fondue and garnished with lark's vomit.

  14. Dave says:

    @dp: Those are copiers' traps, but they were historically put into maps rather than news articles.  In any case you don't need them any more now since a Google search will find copies without requiring you to place traps.  Not even the Grauniad does this any more.

  15. It's called outsourcing the proofreading to the readers.

  16. Drak says:

    Sadly, not only the news media suffers from this. There's hardly any time I can pick up a new book or magazine and find a glaring error in the first few pages, be it spelling or grammar :(

    Last week I also noticed an error on a widespread poster from a plastic miniatures selling company. I could 'grap' a prize. :S

  17. Neil says:

    Dave: Although you wouldn't realise that it contained lark's vomit unless you read the ingredients, where you'd find it just after monosodium glutamate.

  18. GWO says:

    Well done to @Adrian and @Yuri_Khan who caught all the one's I intended and some I didn't (I don't consider English spacing to be an error — if an HTML layout engine screws it up by inserting  s that's not on me. The double-hyphen for em-dash is just a bad habit I got from LaTeX and never got rid of).  

    I intended:

    i) "bury the lede" usually preferred to "bury the lead".

    ii) "obsolete" spelled incorrectly.

    iii) superfluous comma before conjunction

    iv) missing comma after subclause

    v) "varnishing" over "vanishing"

    vi) who's should be whose

    vii) there are not five intentional errors

    I'm not sure about sub-editors' vs sub-editors — it's a debate about sub-editors, it does not belong to them.  I think I prefer it omitted possessive.

  19. Rick says:

    Don't check out the Microsoft Training Guides and Exam Refs, you can start an entire blog on that alone. Not just spelling and interpuction, also notation and bytes to bit errors.

  20. sehe says:


    I thought that was Muprhy's Law

  21. Andreas Rejbrand says:

    These days, it is also common for even fairly obvious errors to be present for many years in translated software. Just to mention one of many errors found in a reasonably well-known office suite, we have…/heltal.png. (I had no idea integrals were also called 'integers'.)

  22. Lance Silver says:

    Hi Raymond,

    I was lucky enough to catch the Blue Angels Homecoming show in Pensacola last weekend. At an event on the evening prior to the show, they were handing out signed and framed posters to sponsors and VIPs.  I noticed that the headings on these posters said, "Blue ANGELS." I asked if this was some kind of insider name or joke?  It turns out that the posters had been proofread by no less than a dozen people, not counting those who autographed them.  I got my copy before they stopped distributing them. No posters or programs were available for sale at the event.  I guess the message here is Nobody's Perfect.



  23. Gabe says:

    Lance Silver: Was the surprising thing about the poster that the word 'angels' was in all-caps, or did you actually mean to write 'ANGLES' instead?

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