TUPPER: Not all laughs come from the comics
The comics page isn't the only source of laughs in the newspaper business.
Sometime since I started working in the industry 12 years ago, I began keeping a file of clippings that I labeled "Comic Relief." The file includes headlines with double meanings, stories with typos that comically alter the meaning of a sentence, and so on.
The latest addition to the file was an email from a reader taking me to task for an increase in the number of grammatical errors in the paper.
The complainer lost a significant amount of credibility by misspelling "grammar" as "grammer" in the email's subject line.
I was tempted to write a smart-alecky reply but didn't. Having made my own share of embarrassing mistakes over the years, I try not to take much pleasure in the mistakes of others, at least while the wound is fresh.
After enough time goes by, I think it's safe to dust off those once-humiliating clips and get a good laugh out of them.
With that in mind, here are some favorites from my "Comic Relief" file:
• "Proudly Welcomes Joe T. Blow." That headline nearly published in an advertisement in our paper. The ad was apparently created from a template, and the local advertiser, whose identity I've removed from the beginning of the headline, forgot to type the new employee's name over the "Joe T. Blow" placeholder text. A sharp-eyed member of our newsroom caught the error and we fixed it before publication.
• "We are blessed to have such wonderful events, natural beauty and interesting man-man attractions to draw visitors to our state." That sentence nearly published in one of our editorials on the Opinion page. The author intended to write "man-made," and the correction was made before the page was printed.
• "Keeping Johnsons straight can be hard on Capitol Hill." Reporters sometimes include suggested headlines with their news stories, and this one accompanied a story about the increasing number of people named Johnson who were working in the nation's Capitol. If you don't understand why the headline is funny, you and the reporter -- who also missed the humor at first -- have perhaps led a more sheltered life than the rest of us. We ended up using a more family-friendly headline.
• "Bed-wedding is upsetting for both child and parents." I can imagine how a wedding conducted in a bed might be upsetting. Unfortunately, the column below this erroneous headline in a rival eastern South Dakota daily newspaper was actually about "bed-wetting."
• "Pubic Safety Department." If I had a nickel for every time I caught this highly unfortunate misspelling of "Public" in a reporter's copy while I was the editor, I'd have a nice start on a nickel collection. It slipped into print at least once, and I have the clipping to prove it.
• "Be alert: Watch for deer on road." That was the warning on a giant highway sign in an Iowa photo we received from The Associated Press. There was a dead deer lying on the highway directly below the sign.
• "Today's Hereo." That was the actual spelling on a framed certificate given to someone in our area for doing something heroic. The error is visible in a news photo we took of the person receiving the award.
• "Porn on the cob." If ever there was a day I earned my pay as an editor, it was the day I caught this phrase in our weekly list of menus and changed the "p" to a "c." I also caught the phrase misspelled one time as "corn on the cop."
• "Blue crap." If a story by one of our reporters about a local charitable event had published without being edited, this would have been listed as one of the food items at the event. The actual food item, "blue crab," sounded a bit more appetizing.