St. Augustine Record announces “Catch the Typos” contest, invites public to “fix” paper

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Typos have been the bane of copy editors since Gutenberg developed movable type, but one Florida newspaper publisher is on a crusade to ban typos from her paper.

Jim Romenesko reports that St. Augustine Record publisher Delinda Fogel announced an incredible plan for 2014 — “to eliminate the typos and grammar mistakes” in the Record.

Fogel writes:

I hear from some readers that part of the entertainment value of The Record is counting the number of errors. I’m not proud that we have a problem. It is very humbling, but it seems to take an army to help turn this tide.

To all of you who have extended me an invitation to come down here and help me fix this, here’s your chance. I need your help. I’m going to hold a contest called “Catch the typos.” I have to credit this idea to one of the citizen members of our Editorial Board, Cathy Brown. She suggested it at our meeting last week.

Fogel invites the public to proofread pages in the editorial offices of the Record from 8:00-11:00 p.m., seven days a week. Participants who catch the most errors in grammar and typos will win a “nice dinner for two.”

One former employee told Romenesko the Record has a four-person copy desk that is “extremely overworked, and copy editing ends up being only about 10 percent of the job as the copy editors also have to lay out the entire paper.

“There was barely time to proof pages when I was there,” the employee added, “and the copy we got from editors was very rough.”

A Facebook post last weekend by Morris Communications Group Publisher Les Simpson, whose company owns the Record, said newspapers are suffering because “archaic ‘journalists’ who would rather sit around and whine rather than give the audience what they want.”

Simpson added, “Quit reading Jim Romenesko and go chart the future.”

In response, Romenesko asks a simple question — why not just hire professional journalists to edit copy instead of “taking people off the street.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.