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Public Editor Sylvia Stead responds to readers and gives a behind-the-scenes look

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Public editor: An eight-year-old takes The Globe to task Add to ...

I often hear from readers who notice typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in the newspaper. The readers are right to be annoyed, especially in my view when the mistakes are in what is called “display copy” such as headlines and photo cutlines, for example.

I heard from a few this week about a cutline that said “again” rather than “against” or another that said “horrible wrong” instead of “horribly wrong.”

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But I have not seen such a charming letter as one sent this week to The Globe’s letters editor from eight-year-old Margaret Qin. She wrote: “You might have not noticed but I think you made one mistake in your paper on Saturday, April 20, 2013. Article A3 about the terror in Boston. This mistake (that I think is a mistake) is: ‘On Friday evening, a man had alerted officials of blood leading to a boat in her backyard?’ A man is a male and her is a female. That mistake really confused me. … I am encouraged to read the paper every day. I enjoy reading your paper,” she said.

Not only is Margaret right about the mistake, she caught one that escaped the eyes of editors and other readers. So well done, Margaret.

I should note that Saturday’s paper had more than its share of such typographical errors for two reasons. The publishing system was essentially frozen and unavailable for editors due to technical reasons for close to two hours Friday evening right on deadline, just about exactly the time that many stories had to be updated or rewritten because the second suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found in that boat. It is a credit to the editors on duty that there were so few errors.

Although the error is confusing, as she writes, Margaret does not let that dissuade her from thinking deeply about the article.

She went on to write about the story of the Boston bombing, noting with great wisdom that “if you have anger, you should not take revenge on innocent people. You should talk to someone to figure out the solution. I think that every problem has a solution.”

She ends the letter in red pen with “Globe and Mail Rocks!”

Follow on Twitter: @SylviaStead

 

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