Errors and Omissions: Whoever is being ‘useless’ here, it certainly isn’t Tony Blair

Our gloriously attentive pedant reviews the slips in this week's Independent

Share
Related Topics

Headlines compress but they should not change the meaning of a news report. On Monday, we led our world news with an outrageous example: “‘Useless, useless, useless’: the Palestinian verdict on Tony Blair.”

The report said in its first sentence that Mr Blair was not the object of criticism: “Palestinian officials say Tony Blair shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home.” Mohammed Shtayyeh, an aide to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was quoted as saying: “The Quartet has been useless, useless, useless.”

In case this was not clear enough, we also quoted a former Palestinian Authority cabinet minister: “It has nothing to do with Tony Blair … I think it’s the Quartet that failed to deliver.”

Aspersion: Also on Monday, in a report about possible explanations for the inexplicable, namely Adam Lanza’s murder of 26 people in Connecticut, we said: “His brother, Ryan, reportedly told police he thought his brother had a personality disorder, possibly Asperger’s, a form of autism.” Asperger’s syndrome is indeed a mild form of autism. It gives people difficulties with social interaction and can make them come across as odd. But it is not a personality disorder, and it is not associated with violence. We should avoid relaying, without clarification, erroneous speculation of that kind.

Figure it out: Our obituary of Arthur Chaskalson on Wednesday was headlined “Key figure in South Africa after apartheid”. The first two words are weak journalese for “important bloke”, and are worse than useless. He was a lawyer who helped to draft the country’s democratic constitution, and who served as Chief Justice from 2001 to 2005. Surely some hint of that could have been conveyed even in seven words.

Departed: Another obituary, on Thursday, of Michel Slitinsky, quoted a tribute from Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux: “With the disappearance of Michel Slitinsky a great voice of the resistance and of memory has gone.” Here, “disappearance” is a clunking mistranslation from French. The word Juppé used must have been disparition. That does mean “disappearance”, but it is also the polite word for “death”. In this context, the obvious English equivalent is “passing”. In English, “disappearance” sounds as if the poor old bloke has been kidnapped.

Small point: I know the “Trending” section of this newspaper is supposed to be trendy, but that is no excuse for an item on Thursday beginning “In the wee hours of 10 October, an emergency call reached the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department...” Was “wee hours” meant to be Californian, Scottish or just twee? If we did not know the time of the call, the “small hours” would have done fine.

Guy Keleny is away

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions