Again and again, I see proof of professional reliance on spellcheckers instead of good old proofreading and editing. Case in point: a Northwest Indiana Times article about funding for safety improvements on the South Shore Railroad. The reporter included this bullet point: “Implementation of Positive Train Control, a federally mandated safety system that tracks the precise location of trains and allows for automatic breaking if necessary.” I’m pretty confident she meant to write “braking,” because that’s what PTC does — it applies the brakes when it detects danger. But I could be wrong. Maybe the railroad really wants a system that makes the trains fall apart from time to time.
In an August Indianapolis Star story about a local school corporation’s redistricting plans, the reporter quoted a school board member as advising the superintendent not to “waiver when certain wealthy wives start calling.” A waiver is a device through which someone gives up a right or something to which they have a claim. What the reporter meant was “waver,” which in this instance means to waffle between two positions instead of taking a firm stand.
Even NPR isn’t immune. A June 16 story about troubled Cairo, Illinois saw this misuse: “One humid morning, Matthews drove along a dirt road atop of a levy near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in Cairo.” A “levy” is a tax. An earthen dam constructed to protect property from floodwaters is a “levee.”
And then there’s just good-old-fashioned sloppiness, as in a July Indianapolis Star online profile about prospective Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that included a subhead reading “What does do at Notre Dame?” What does do probably doesn’t include proofreading.