Monday, October 29, 2007

Correction of the (still-young) week

Here's an interesting case of a correction that really isn't, quite:
A story in Sunday's Travel section about a new wind tunnel in Raeford incorrectly said the route from Charlotte to the facility would go through Siler City.
Left feeling somehow ... incomplete by this? You should be. The point of corrections, after all, is not just to acknowledge that you screwed up, but to put the correct information into circulation in hopes of driving out the bad information. (Indeed, that's why it's usually a good idea not to repeat the error directly -- a better-written correction will generally say "Misstated the route of ..." rather than "incorrectly said 'went to LA via Omaha.'") So where's the real "route from Charlotte to the facility"? Inquiring minds, and all that, eh?
Here's how the original looked (and yes, you can cut past the treacly first-person prose and get right to the error; all in a day's work here at HEADSUP-L):
From Charlotte, take U.S. 74 East to U.S. 401 (in Laurinburg); follow U.S. 401 north through Siler City and downtown Raeford. Turn left on Brock Road; you'll see Paraclete XP SkyVenture, at 190 Paraclete Drive. It's about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Charlotte.
As you can see from the map (of which there should be several on the desk for those of us who don't trust Google), the directions aren't that far off, except for the bizarre relocation of Siler City (it's east of Asheboro for you out-of-towners). Leaving the inquiring mind to wonder: How did that happen? Why didn't it get caught? And can't anybody here play this game?
After all, you can get to Raeford from Charlotte by going through Siler City. It's just that absent some compelling reason, like family or obscure but not especially good taste in barbecue, there's no reason to. So the correction's not even really about something wrong. And since we don't add any corrected information to the mix, or even leaven the Monday paper with the candor and sometimes witty directness of the Grauniad's corrections, is there a point?
Stifling, at some effort, the urge to complain yet again about the Great State of Mecklenburg and its bizarre belief that everything east of Greensboro is foreign territory, I'm inclined to say: Not enough of one. I'd like to think The Rules are being reviewed for the desks concerned:
1) Always look at the map when you're reviewing the directions. It's like looking at the photo when you write a cutline. It's how we do things.
2) It doesn't matter how well you think you know the terrain. Look at the damn map again.
3) Especially if it's a travel piece, the purpose of which is to enable this pastime called "travel," not to screw it up.
4) Especially if it's from a freelancer.
5) Not that you should trust a staffer as far as you can dropkick him/her into a stiff breeze either. RTFM, we say; encore RTFM and toujours RTFM.



Blogger Strayhorn said...

Geography seems to be one of those subjects displaced in the modurn skul system by whatever feel-good course has been sold to the EdD folks in Raleigh. Just the other night I heard a weather droid admit that she didn't know where the Windward Islands were located. For someone who is supposed to be following hurricane developments, that was a shocking admission.

But newcomers and other furriners can be forgiven their lack of local knowledge - putting Muscle Shoals in Memphis, as the Grauniad did, indicates that history is also being ignored in the Brit skul system. As for Siler City, well, at one time it was the only place one could find an open public restroom between Raleigh and Asheboro and remains in the public consciousness as such.

Otherwise, it does have a Dew Drop Inn. Whether there are any drunk chicks and a guy with green teeth would require further investigation.

9:37 AM, October 30, 2007  

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