Denny’s Daily Zinger: Proofread or Pay

I am a lousy proofreader.

I came across a proofreading story in Jim Romanesko’s always amusing blog:

Chris Powell, managing editor for the [Washington, Conn.] Journal Inquirer, warned his staff members today that they face a $15 charge for errors that require a press plate change.

It lit up the Twittersphere with unhappy journalists.

America’s Studmuffin President
Believe it or not, Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) was a hottie.

When his wife died suddenly in 1914, he immediately wooed and won Edith Bolling Galt, a rich widow in Washington.

During the years of the WWI, Washington society was every bit as ribald and randy as it is today. Raunchy jokes about the president and his new lady circulated throughout the capitol. Example:

Q: “What did Edith Galt do when the president proposed?”
A: “She fell out of bed.”

The Washington Post’s Worst Typo
Describing the president and Mrs. Galt attending the theater one evening, The Post printed this:

Rather than paying attention to the play, the President spent the evening entering Mrs. Galt.

It was meant to be “the President spent the evening entertaining Mrs. Galt.”

Post boys delivery went forth snapping up papers from newsstands and doorsteps in the most massive recall in the Post’s history.

A few papers got out and caused guffaws worldwide.

Takeaways to Consider

  • If you are a lousy proofreader (as I am) hire a professional.
  • A $15 fine for replacing a plate is a helluva lot cheaper than recalling an entire run of The Washington Post.

Denny Hatch is a copywriter, designer and direct marketing consultant. Read the first three chapters of “Write Everything Right!” for free (PDF). Contact Denny at

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

Related Content
  • Winston Marsh

    For a journalist, the Managing Editor who imposed the $15 charge loves a long and convoluted sentence…

    So henceforth requests to the press department to change a plate to fix a news department mistake will have to go through the managing editor, or, in my absence, through the assistant managing editor for production, and a plate change required to fix mistakes for which there’s no good explanation may cost the responsible employee, whether editor or reporter, a payroll deduction for the cost of the plate.

  • Flowerfish

    What a humorous titibit – oops, I meant tidbit.