Wick Communications

Is it Murphy’s or Muphry’s?

In journalism on March 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm
This is not Photoshopped. The jersey actually looked like that. AP

This is not Photoshopped. The jersey actually looked like that. AP

Open your textbooks and fire up your calculators; today we will be talking about The Law of Prescriptive Retaliation. This particular universal truth is also known as The Iron Law of Nitpicking, Skitt’s Law, Hartman’s Law of Prescriptivist Retaliation, and Muphry’s Law.

That’s no typo. I said, Muphry’s Law.

Goes like this: “If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written.” A corollary states, “If a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you.”

I know these are laws are tree because these sort of ego-shattering mistakes happen right here in The Kicker with painful regularity. I also know why they happen as often as they happen here. You see, I don’t have an editor.

Because my muse doesn’t strike in a timely manner, I usually don’t have these posts in time to present them to Half Moon Bay Review copy editor Julie Gerth before I slap them onto the Web. As a result, I know I’ll make more mistakes than I would if Julie had a chance to vet my posts. …

Obviously, the most reliable antidote to Muphry’s Law is getting more eyeballs on your work. The more people who read behind you, the less likely you will look like a fool.

While that is important in every instance of writing, it is perhaps somewhat more important when you are writing headlines in 60-point type and selling your work to advertisers and readers. If I screw up here, it just makes me look bad. If you screw up on Page 1, the consequences could be worse.

And take it from someone who has saddle sores from all the time he spends on his high horse: If you are going to point out proofreading mistakes, for the love of all that is holy, be careful with your own words.

Clay

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