Dreaded “Typo” in Middle East Coverage

In the newspaper business, you live and die with your credibility. “Typos” are not just to be avoided, they are to be dreaded. Even the misplacement of a single letter or a transposition can make a big difference.

Witness the Jan. 12 edition of the St. Petersburg Times.

Right there at the top of page two: “Hard-liners in Iraq Reject Candidates for Elections.”

Oops. Big news, big implications, big mistake. Those candidates rejected by hard-liners were actually in Iraq.

At first glance, however, it seemed to make sense. Then it was apparent. Another installment of Iran’s hard-liner-vs-moderate soap opera.

However, it could have been worse. It could have been on page one. Or it could have read: “Hard-liners in Iran Reject Candidates for Erections.”

On second thought, no one may have caught that one. Talk about a country with rigid controls.

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