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Monday, May 5, 2008

Copybitch: Which paper has the worstest grammar?

Look, they fit in a two-seater.

When it comes to distinguishing comparative and superlative, the newspapers are tied with the bloggers and the candidates themselves for not caring about the needs of ordinary grammarians.

Two candidates are running for the Democratic nomination. Between them, there can be a stronger candidate. Not this, from Adam Nagourney and Marjorie Connelly of The New York Times:
Still, the survey suggested that Mr. Obama, of Illinois, had lost much or all of the once-commanding lead he had held over Mrs. Clinton, of New York, among Democratic voters on the question of which of them would be the strongest candidate against Mr. McCain, of Arizona.
It bears repetition that the Times is not alone in perpetuating this superlative solecism. The sparklingly well spoken Obama himself - who, to his political peril, makes a point of pronouncing Taliban "Taleebahn" - does it routinely.

One more bitch about the Times: as usual, the links to the reporter's bylines are to lists of their stories, something only a paper with a rich self-regard and ignorance of readers' needs would think to provide in a medium where it is standard practice to hyperlink authors names with email addresses. The link for Adam Nagourney at least gets you to a second link to a form with which to email him, but it warns that the message will be delayed.

When I was a reporter for, every reporter's byline had a mailto: link. I frequently got email from readers that helped me clarify if not correct the posted story in very short order or alerted me to related story ideas. The Times doesn't cotton to this element of "interactivity," a longstanding symptom of its illness-at-ease on the Internet.

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