The perils of poor copy-editing

December 27th, 2011 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

This article about PhoneDog’s suing of a former employee, Noah Kravitz, over his twitter account is interesting in itself (they’re claiming rights to the account followers, as a customer list, and seeking compensation on that basis). However, what caught my eye was the claim in the RTÉ sub-heading that Kravitz “must pay” $2.50 per user, which matched rather too well what PhoneDog are listed, later in the piece, as seeking.

A quick search reveals that the case is still being litigated. Thus, the ‘must pay’ is merely the claim being made by his former employer, and no damages have yet been assessed. Indeed, if what Kravitz says is correct, it looks like this is a counter-suit aimed at balancing out his claim for a share of PhoneDog’s advertising revenue.

RTÉ’s headline is fine, but the sub-heading implies that the suit has been settled, and compensation levels set. I’m not sure how much copy-editing RTÉ employs before adding news articles to its site, but this is something that could have been caught (and easily corrected) by a good copy-editor – or caused by poor editing that sought to simplify an overly complex construction in the draft lead.

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