Errors & Omissions: Shocking revelation... other rival newspapers really do exist

Remember the email from the late Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe complaining about a lack of helicopters in Afghanistan? Well, I'm going to tell you a secret. The existence of the email was first disclosed in the Daily Mail.

If you didn't know that already, it is because last Saturday this newspaper played a daft little charade that newspapers frequently play on such occasions. Our news story reported: "The emailed memo sent on 5 June was classified as 'Nato secret' but was passed to a newspaper by Conservative MP and former Grenadier Guards officer Adam Holloway."

The "a newspaper" formula has been widely used for many decades, but it is still pretty pathetic to try to deprive your readers of useful information simply to avoid mentioning the name of a rival newspaper. And meanwhile, the internet has arrived. Anybody who wants to know where the story came from can find out easily enough. The charade gets sillier and sillier. Time to recognise the shocking fact that other newspapers exist and sometimes carry interesting stories.



Lucky escape: Another bad habit of newspapers is cooking up a false feeling of drama, as in this picture caption from a news page on Monday: "Oasis of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, cleared a crucial obstacle yesterday, lowering its smokestacks to squeeze under a bridge in Denmark as it left the Baltic on its maiden voyage to Florida."

"Cleared a crucial obstacle" and "squeeze under a bridge" suggest that there was some risk that the ship might not have made it, remaining for ever trapped in the Baltic Sea. Come off it. The people who design and operate ships can easily find out the heights of bridges they must go under.



Misfire: This is from a news story last Saturday: "The internet's reliance on the English language has long been maligned as a hangover from the web's beginnings as a communications tool for the US military." Maligned? Not quite. I think the writer meant "criticised". "Malign" is a very strong word; it means to speak ill with deliberate malice, and it carries the strong suggestion that what is being said is false.



Decline and fall: Most of the things that "everybody knows" are wrong. One of them surfaced in Bruce Anderson's Monday piece: the familiar idea that the fall of the Roman Empire was accompanied, if not caused, by spectacular dissipation on the part of its ruling class. Anderson was arguing that drug prohibition should be relaxed. "The aim of these measures would not be the promotion of universal hippydom: still less, to bring the decadence of the late Roman empire to the streets of south London."

In fact the familiar monsters of depravity – Caligula, Nero, Domitian, Commodus – ruled the Roman Empire at the height of its power in the first and second centuries. The nonentities who presided over its decline in the fourth and fifth centuries – Honorius, Arcadius, Valentinian III – were Christian gentlemen of comparative personal respectability. No druggies they.

And here is a piece of more recent history. "Hippydom" should be "hippiedom". They say that if you remember the Sixties you weren't really there, but I definitely remember the spelling of "hippie".



Translated from the American: "The European Court of Human Rights has said that the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools violates religious and educational freedoms," said a news report from the US news agency the Associated Press, which we carried on Wednesday. These schools are not what anybody in this country understands as public schools. In a British newspaper they are state schools.



Mixed metaphor of the week: "Obama in last-ditch dash to stave off Democratic defeat," said a headline on Monday. Obama may dash, or he may stand and defend a ditch. He cannot do both at once. The headline, it is only fair to point out, reflected the story. An unruly mob of metaphors can so easily crowd into stories about business and politics. In this case we had the President making a "flying visit" to New Jersey to "put his weight behind" the re-election of the state's Democratic governor, while at the same time trying to "salvage" his party's fortunes. Meanwhile, the Republicans were "salivating at the prospect of being able to land a blow on the President".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition