Getting use to journalists who can’t spell?

This morning I was watching The Weather Channel® and saw this promo for an upcoming story: “Getting use to the heat.”  Sigh.  It reminded me of my disappointment two weeks ago when one of my favorite writers, Peggy Noonan, penned a column containing a similar sentence: “This didn’t use to be true.”

 As a college writing teacher, I’ve seen words like “used” misspelled in freshman composition essays for so long that I’m pleasantly surprised when a student actually gets them right:

  • A prejudice person (should be “prejudiced”)
  • A cliché expression (should be “clichéd”)
  • An old-fashion ice cream social (should be “old-fashioned”)
  • It use to be . . . (should be “used”)
  • He was suppose to be here (should be “supposed”)
  • Close captioning for the hearing impaired (should be “closed captioning”)

 The reason for these misspellings is completely logical: the “d” is almost always silent to listeners, especially when followed by a “t” sound, as in “it used to be.”  Someone who only hears (but never sees) the words doesn’t even realize his mistake, which is why the misspellings are so prevalent in student writing.  Few undergraduates are serious readers, and this is doubtless a reflection of the culture at large.

 However, it’s depressing to see these mistakes occur so often in newspapers or text graphics in television news broadcasts.  Such misspellings are particularly odious because they expose a writer’s lack of familiarity with the written word.

 Journalism is still a “glamour” career, and those lucky enough to make it to the field’s major leagues have a professional obligation to know how to spell the words that constitute their stock in trade.

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
This entry was posted in Books and reading, Grammar, punctuation, usage, mechanics, Writing, blogging and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Getting use to journalists who can’t spell?

  1. Karen Spivey says:

    I totally agree!!! 🙂


  2. Spelling and incorrect word use in today’s articles is one of my biggest gripes. Then and than, do and due, are just two I can call to mind immediately. There are many more.
    I am not very good myself but feel very smart compared to those writing today. Some are so bad that it is sometimes hard to understand what they are trying to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No doubt all of us have used the wrong word or spelled words incorrectly at one point or another. But the continual appearance of error in professional journalism is frustrating to see. It would be like going to watch a professional basketball game and discovering that some players are barely capable of dribbling the ball. No one wins awards for dribbling, but it’s a skill so basic to the game that players who can’t do it well probably don’t belong in the NBA.


  3. British journalists seem to be much better. What that means I can’t be sure of.

    Liked by 1 person

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