Write me a letter

All right, wordies, who’s up for a Word Nymph challenge?

Here’s the background:  This week I wrote my first letter to the editor of The Washington Post. That’s significant considering I’ve been reading the Post since I could read. In fact, I still have the Sunday edition my father bought the day I was born. It’s also surprising that I only now penned my first gripe, considering the nitpickiness of my nature.

Like many newspapers, the Post has suffered sizeable cutbacks in recent years, many of which have hit the editing team. Up to now, when I’ve noticed an occasional typo or less occasional grammatical, spelling or punctuation error in my hometown paper, my reaction has been more sympathetic than critical.

However, last Sunday, an erroneous subhead provoked my inner schoolmarm. I fired off a pithy primer on subject-verb agreement that I thought might have a chance of being printed, if not in the daily Letters, then surely in Saturday’s “Free For All” space, typically set aside for granular grievances.

I awoke today—Saturday—with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning, and ran out to get the paper. I flipped directly to the editorial pages. Nada. I wondered: Was my letter too nitpicky? Too esoteric? Not well written enough?

Here’s the challenge:  1. Read the following headline, along with its subhead (sorry, I can’t find a link to the original editorial). 2. See if you notice the grammatical error. 3. Submit, in the Comments section below, your pretend letter to the editor, using fewer than 200 words (mine was 106). The best submissions will win a prize and the opportunity to help me the next time I’m stirred to speak up. Extra credit goes to anyone who can furnish the link to the editorial.

Picking on Catholic University
A complaint of bias against Muslims seem frivolous.



Filed under All Things Wordish, News

11 responses to “Write me a letter

  1. My contributrion:
    “Your subhead in [x] lacks proper subject-verb agreement. It should read “A complaint of bias against Muslims SEEMS frivolous.” I am fine enough let go the occasional typo but your newspaper has been doing this too much lately.” (39 words)

    Can’t find the original editorial either. So, ‘close, but no cigar’ for me.

  2. http://thewashingtonpost.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

    My complaint probably seemS frivolous, but I am a believer in world peace and like even my subjects and verbs to agree. It’s a bias of mine. God forbid I would pick on you or Catholic University, but why can’t your subjects and verbs just give peace a chance?

    • Oops – forgot my punctuation manners and left out a question mark and should have added an “s” to subjects. I think I’ve just disqualified myself and will now apply as a proofreader at the Washington Post.

      • No problem. I went in and fixed it. P.S. I have often considered offering my proofreading services to the Post free of charge. I’m a good proofreader, except when it comes to my own writing.

  3. Dave

    I share your frustration. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Post a few months ago after they printed an article about the Mona Lisa in which they asserted that the painting was seen by 10,000,000 people per day. I showed them some simple math demonstrating that, assuming The Louvre were open for twelve hours per day, they’d have to run people past the painting at a rate of over 231 people per second. There was no response.

  4. Re: “Campaign Against Catholic University” – The article’s subhead (“A complaint of bias against Muslims seem frivolous”) seem to lack proper subject-verb agreement.

    Here’s the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/campaign-against-catholic-university/2011/11/03/gIQAqszLqM_story.html.

    • Wow, Craig, good one! Thanks. Google and Yahoo, and Washingtonpost.com for that matter, failed me. Or perhaps it was operator error. I see the subhead in question is absent from the online editorial.

  5. Pingback: A mighty near mis-fire | Word Nymph

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