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Bad Spelling and Online News – Sloppy or Smart? June 13, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Business, News, Technology.


How many of you have noticed that misspelled words are becoming more common online in legitimate news articles?  Whether I am browsing CNN.com or ESPN.com or a local newspaper web site like the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate.com,  I see the same problem.

Misspelled words are an exception rather than the rule in traditional newspapers.

Why are they more abundant in online articles?  After all, word processing programs have a handy little spell checker button to eliminate the problem. (On a side note….does anyone find it humorous that the word “blog” is still identified in many spell checkers — I’m looking at you MS Word 2003— as a misspelled word?)

I have a few ideas as to why spelling errors are tolerated in online news:

  1. Need to produce more articles, more quickly
  2. Sloppy editing or none at all
  3. More “non traditional” journalists writing the news and making mistakes

OR……is it intentional?   I hadn’t considered this option until I googled “increase in spelling errors” and came upon Shaun Low’s blog where he had written this article:

Are Spelling Mistakes Good?

Shaun’s article asks the question from a blogging perspective.  Specifically,  googlers misspell words when they type in a search.  If you include a misspelled word in your blog post, it may increase traffic to your blog.  Of course, in theory the same line of thinking may apply to online new articles.

However, I’m not sure this is the reason for sloppy spelling.

I think it is just carelessness and a change in attitudes among writers and readers.



1. Um BB - June 16, 2008

interesting issue
we have the same problem in arabic article also! I believe its an international problem
I laughed a lot when I read that “misspelled word may increase traffic to your blog”
what a strange world

2. malharp16 - June 24, 2008

Yeah I dont believe its because writers are trying to get traffic from misspelled words. It seems like they would do better off if they just spelled it right because then the article would be more keyword dense.

I think it’s just carelessness like you do

3. Psuedo Banksy - June 24, 2008

Heck, I don’t really notice misspelled words to often. I mean as long as I can still read it, why does it matter? Some spelling mistakes are do to laziness because even web browsers have a spell checker (Firefox does). But none the less, I do not mind too much.

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