One reader, correcting a state official’s title, addressed me as a despised species of animal, one with the same number of letters as “jackdaw,” although corvus monedulais is a shiny, rather handsome member of the crow family, so I wouldn’t have minded that comparison so much.
Another reader slathered on the sarcasm — glancingly funny — repairing a pair of foreign-language typos.
How does one engage minor mistakes in online journalism? One thing to keep in mind: The correction can be done instantaneously, effortlessly.
So why express a contempt bordering on hostility for a human error, especially one committed without a whiff of malice? Did the correspondents feel slighted during a recent social report? (If so, why are they still reading Out & About?) Are they nursing wounds from some long-ago criticism or philosophical position? (I probably made more enemies than friends during 15 years of arts reporting for this publication.)
Or has Id-evoking hostility persisted beyond the Internet’s infant years, epecially given pseudonymous postings and false return addresses?
The most discreet way to help badly informed or hastily prepared online journalists is to e-mail them directly. You know, that link right next to the public commentary box, obviously more tempting for those turned on by humiliation.
Here’s our dirty secret: We ache to know the mistakes. We actually want to fix them.
Ask Carla McDonald, twice bitten in my columns by an egregious, never-to-be-forgiven error. I called the stylish philanthropist behind YouthWorks, Ballet Austin, Austin Film Society, Stephen’s Angels and countless other groups by the wrong name: “Marla.”
That hurts. So McDonald merrily e-mails me about my preferring Marla to her given name, and something about her husband, Jack, dating Marla Maples on the side, heaven forfend. McDonald, who has been known to send out an early draft before regularizing it, knows that, despite all our efforts to get it right, some little kinks in our brains are always going to spoil perfection.
Here’s to the Carlas of the world, and to a robust sense of humor without the punishing sting.