Yesterday I was on my way to Little Rock to watch the limited theater release of Company with a friend when the air conditioner went out in my car. You just can’t make a 65-mile one-way trip in the 95°F+ Arkansas heat without air conditioning unless you want to sit alone in the corner of the theater, so I was pretty pissed.
Then I remembered I was going to be locking my friend in a box and driving him across the desert in July, and I felt pretty crappy about mentally complaining about having no air conditioning for an hour when he’ll be without it (or a toilet) for six-plus days. (Then again, he once showed up at my 400-square foot house unannounced looking for a place to stay with five other guys who’d been living in a van, so he’ll probably be okay.)
After I arrived home from the film (Which, by the way, was AWESOME. You really should see it if you have a chance, as Katie Finneran and Patti LuPone in particular absolutely KILLED it.), I had messages from Jordan (the boxed artist in question) that his upcoming project had gotten quite a bit of coverage in the last 24 hours. In point of fact, his website hits went from virtually nil to over 30,000 in one day thanks to the widespread media coverage, including on sites like MSNBC.com and Kotaku. Of course I was thrilled about the press, because I’m so excited about Jordan’s work and this trip in particular.
Here’s what gets my goat, though. Almost every single online article I’ve seen (I must have scanned at least 30 over the last two days) gets almost every detail wrong. As a former professional journalist who now works as a freelance editor and writer, I was appalled at the lack of accuracy.
On the one hand, I’m quite accustomed to my name being misspelled; in point of fact, I’ve spent most of my life answering to “Brandi” or “Brenda” rather than my actual name (“Bradi”), so that was no biggie.
But I just can’t get over the fact that professional sites publish stories with such glaring inaccuracies, especially when they’re (presumably) taking the information directly from Jordan’s site. What’s even more confusing is that Jordan has his contact information right there on his site, so the writers could have resolved virtually all these mistakes by simply shooting him an email. (And to be fair, in the last couple days Jordan has fielded a fair number of emails from journalists from both print and online publications who presumably will get the story right.)
Perhaps the most stunning and consistent error I’ve found in these articles is that they abbreviate “Arkansas” as “AK.” That, my friends, is completely and totally wrong. Driving from Alaska to Oregon presents a whole different set of challenges than driving from Arkansas to Oregon. Of course, this mistake is also quite common. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve given my address to a customer service representative on the phone and had this conversation:
Me: ….in Bald Knob, Arkansas.
CSR: That’s “AK,” right?
Me: No. “AK” is Alaska.
CSR: Really? I thought Alaska was “AL.”
Me: No, that’s Alabama.
CSR: And you said it’s “AR”? Are you sure that’s not Arizona’s abbreviation?
Me: I’m sure. Arizona is “AZ.”
I know that because of my professional field I’m far more aware of grammar, usage and mechanics than the average person. But you guys, the AP Stylebook is your friend. And was I the only one who had to memorize postal abbreviations in, like, eighth grade? Is that a skill schools just don’t teach anymore? No wonder postal carriers always seem so surly.