In the “Dynamics of Media Writing” book, one of the best pieces of advice comes from Kate Morgan, the director of communications in the division of student affairs at the University of Notre Dame:
“There isn’t a job I can think of that doesn’t involve writing in some capacity. Take emails. If a vendor emails me a quote with spelling and grammatical errors, my level of faith in his ability to adequately meet my needs diminishes significantly. Perhaps this makes me a snob, but that’s not my problem. I’m not going to lower my expectations just because someone else is too lazy to write a complete sentence. Given my level of experience in this industry thus far, I’m almost positive I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
Although I haven’t checked in with Kate since former President Donald Trump’s legal team filed its response to the article of impeachment levied against him, I’m guessing she probably would have fired this group of knuckleheads after Tuesday’s disaster:
The defense team for former President Donald Trump’s impending impeachment trial was widely mocked Tuesday for issuing a response to the House of Representatives’ article of impeachment that contained both spelling and—according to critics—legal mistakes.
One spelling error that sparked a flurry of comments on Twitter came in the very beginning of Trump’s response, which is addressed to the “The Honorable, the Members of the Unites States Senate.”
Trump’s legal teams (plural) over the years have often had trouble with spelling. In one case, former attorney Sidney Powell misspelled the word “district” twice as well as the word “superior” in an Arizona filing with the state’s highest court.
It’s not only Trump’s team that seems to be having word trouble these days, as I’m looking forward to many more misstatements like this:
Still, I guess if I were paying these folks, I’d want someone to go beyond firing up a spell check and hitting “ignore” 50 times like a sophomore business major whose friends are waiting on him to file a paper so they can go hit a house party.
With that in mind, here’s a good exercise for your copy-editing folk:
Here’s a link to a PDF of the filing. Have your students download it and copy edit the heck out of it. What might also be instructive is to determine how many things are misspelled (as in “Suprior” instead of “Superior”) and how many things are wrong words (as in “erection” instead of “insurrection” or “Unites” instead of “United”). This might drive home the lesson of why it is we should run a spell check on anything before we submit it but also that spell check alone won’t save you from looking stupid.