A few months back I published on this blog a lengthy in-house memo circulated within the Express organisation detailing the factual and grammatical errors within just one edition. Now it seems that the readers are getting in on the act as well.
A certain Mr Edward Bankside, who “loves the Express and all it stands for”, writes from Spain in exasperated fashion and coruscating form, bemoaning declining standards on the newspaper. (And this is before they finally do away with subs.)
So distraught was Daily Express editor Peter Hill that he circulated the letter to all staff. The full text follows, along with Hill’s reply.
It seems that readers do care about silly things like spelling and grammar. How’s about that then, Professor Greenslade?
Dear Mr Hill,
After years of biting my tongue, the content of the Daily Express has driven me to complaining in writing for the first time in 45 years.
In yesterday’s edition (Feb 12, page 3), you write of Britons being left “red-faced” because of their inability to spell correctly.
Yet over the page, in a story headlined “I’m glad Crosby’s quit”, your writer has made the most basic spelling and grammatical error.
The sixth paragraph refers to a Paul Moore quote, which reads: “I was fired, in my opinion, because I raised legitimate concerns about dangerous banking PRACTISE.”
I learned at school, many years ago, that PRACTISE is the verb and PRACTICE the noun. There must be someone on your staff who understands the difference.
Also, your news team seem to have forgotten about the use of commas and full-stops. I see on many occasions, almost daily, two sentences linked by a comma instead of a full-stop. Is this the new Express vogue?
Regarding the sacking of Chelsea manager Phil Scolari, your news story on Tuesday had him on a three-year contract, worth six million pounds a year.
Your regular Chelsea football reporter Tony Banks, who appears well-versed in Stamford Bridge matters, said he had a two-year contract worth 12 million.
It surely won’t have been that difficult for your news reporter to have checked with Banks, or the sports editor, to make sure the facts agreed.
Finally, what on earth has happened to your compound adjectives? Day after day, these are written without a necessary hyphen, or are split from one line to another in headlines.
A quick glance at today’s paper (Friday) reveals PENT UP without a hyphen in a small headline beneath “Village winners” on page 73.
On Wednesday, page 15, the main headline reads “Anger at police gay essay competition for under-14s. Gay-essay must be hyphenated to make any sense of it.
Similarly, on page 26 the same day, fancy and dress are on different lines. The headline reads as though the dress bash was fancy instead of saying fancy-dress bash. Your headline writer couldn’t make it work because space did not permit, so he or she should have written something else.
I love the Express and all it stands for, and these errors, though an everyday part of the newspaper now, won’t stop me buying it.
That reminds me of the price I pay each week. I’m a pensioner and it costs me nearly 12 quid a week, plus nearly three on Sundays to buy the Express because I live abroad.
Yet your front page boasts every day: Printed in Spain. That means it is transferred here electronically at a key stroke, so why the horrendous cost?
Please, please, have a word with all the journalists directly under your command and get things back on track – providing, of course, they understand what you are on about!
Sorry for the rant, but I’ve been driving my wife mad, moaning about the state of play for months and had to get it off my chest.
Dear Mr Bankside,
We work at enormous speed to get the newspaper out on time, and mistakes are certain to happen. The pretentious papers commit even more errors than we do. But there is no excuse for carelessness. I am forwarding your message to the entire staff in the hope that it will encourage all of us to do better.