Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 19

I'm almost a week late posting this boo-boo from last Thursday's Herald. On the front page of the September 11th sports section they wrapped text around a blank space. I think the space was meant to hold the writer's name and photo.

The good news is I haven't seen any Herald boo-boos in the last six days.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 18

I thought I was going to make it all the way through Sunday's Herald without finding any boo-boos. But page D1 let me down. Under the Your Town news briefs was a notice about impending road work at two locations near Salinas. The notice in and of itself was fine, except that Harold put it under the "Monterey Peninsula" subheading.

Harold, perhaps it's time to invest in a map.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 16&17

Two new Boo-Boos came off the presses this week. Number 16 was a line in a September 3rd editorial praising the recently concluded Monterey County Fair.
"The theme of 'Party With The Animals' evoked memories of the Central Coast's rural past,...."
Whoever wrote that needs to get out of town more often. The vast majority of the Central Coast is still farms and ranches to this very day!

And for Boo-Boo number 17, another formatting error was found on the September 5th editorial page. Once again the "Sounding Off" feature was missing the credit line identifying the writer. (I posted an example of a correctly formatted Sounding Off comment in Boo-Boo Watch part 4.)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 15

We begin September with a pop quiz for Harold.

What is the name of the organization that hosted the sailboat races in Monterey this weekend?
A) The Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club (as stated in the Herald's page 1 photo caption).

B) The Monterey Bay Yacht Club (as stated in the subheading introducing the page 1 article).

C) The Monterey Yacht Club (as stated in the article, when it finally gets mentioned near the end).

The correct answer is A. There is no such thing as the Monterey Bay Yacht Club or the Monterey Yacht Club.

Oh Harold, it's sad to see a once great local newspaper become so incompetent so quickly.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 14

The same rookie Herald reporter who gave us Boo-Boo #13 a few days ago has now given us #14. It was located on page A4 of the August 28th issue. The article was about the dedication of a bench by the Carmel post office to honor the late Carmel cartoonist Bill Bates.

As every Carmelite knows, some of Bill Bates' cartoons have graced the walls of the Carmel post office for decades, save for a brief period of time in 2006. On Thursday the Herald printed this explanation for the hiatus:
"Bates' cartoons were taken down from the post office when an art gallery complained it should have the right to hang its artwork there."
I don't know where the reporter got that information, because that's not what happened. To my knowledge no commercial business in Carmel ever claimed the right to display its merchandise at the public post office. 

What really happened was that a US Postal Service "retail standardization team" visited the post office and set plans in place to update the decor of the place to conform to postal service standards. The Bates cartoons were determined to be non-conforming decorations and were removed.

And that's not all. The standardization team also decreed that the old style brass mail boxes with combination locks were to be replaced with modern stainless steel (or was it aluminum?) boxes with keyed locks.

Both of these changes prompted an angry uproar from the townsfolk who liked their old fashioned post office just fine and wanted to preserve its historic character. And how dare they remove Bates' cartoons! To Carmelites, these changes were a huge insult to community traditions.

After city hall got involved the USPS brass backed down. Many of the cartoons went back up on the walls, and the old mailboxes were spared. 

That's what really happened. A local reporter or editor with some institutional knowledge, or a competent rookie who knew how to verify information, should have known that. Fortunately, we have the Carmel Pine Cone to tell the true story this week.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch part 13

Hey kids! We went one whole day without finding any careless errors in the Herald, but today we found a doozy.

There are three problems with this article from page B1 of Saturday's paper. 

Let's start with the headline. It's just plain wrong. The gas explosion in Carmel last March was not a pipeline explosion. Gas leaked into a house and the house exploded, not the pipe.

Second, the article says "An electric crew was working nearby on a natural gas pipeline." (See the red underline above.) Wrong again. I'm pretty sure PG&E doesn't assign electric crews to work on gas lines or gas crews to work on electric lines. According to reports written at the time, it was a "welding crew." It's a sad state of affairs when the reporter doesn't know his subject well enough to know the difference between electricity and gas. That goes double for his AWOL out-of-town editor.

The third issue I have with this article may put me on slightly less stable ground. Very slightly. Above, I circled a questionable sentence in blue, which says the cause of the explosion has not been determined nor is it known whether there is any connection between the work crew's activities and the house explosion.

Technically that may be correct. I don't think any firm conclusions about the cause have yet been documented. But the wording here implies that the cause is still a complete mystery, which it isn't.

Had the writer (or a local editor with some institutional memory - which we no longer have) bothered to check the Herald's own archives they would have found this article from May 5th which said....

The crew was working on a steel gas pipe, but punctured a plastic pipe inside the steel pipe. The plastic pipe inside the other pipe wasn't "reflected on the map(s)," the report says.

Unnoticed, the leaking gas likely traveled down the pipe, into the soil and got into the home through its sewer lines. The pressurized gas got into the home living space, and about 40 to 60 minutes after the plastic pipe was first punctured, there was "a quick, loud bang."

A pilot light on a stove in the home likely touched off the explosion.
The March 21st Carmel Pine Cone reported much the same thing:
The leak that led to the explosion occurred when a PG&E worker tapped into a gas main he thought was just steel, but it actually contained a plastic insert. As he worked on the line, gas leaked between the steel shell and the plastic lining and followed the main into the home.

“The area of space between the steel and the plastic allows gas to go anywhere,” [PG&E Vice President Kevin] Knapp explained.
Like evolution, this may still be "just a theory" but the evidence points strongly to a direct connection between the PG&E crew's activities and the explosion. To suggest otherwise without providing the known facts is sloppy reporting.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Herald Boo-Boo Watch parts 11&12

Careless errors keep rolling off the Herald presses like water off a ducks back.

Today the Herald ran a story about the Monterey Downs EIR on page 2, and continued on page 4. The segment on page 4 said it was continued from...wait for 4.

And while we're at it, the AWOL editor missed this typo from Kenneth Peterson's financial advice column on page A7. Of course, the writer made the error, but this is the sort of thing editors are supposed to catch, the mistakes spell-check can't. (Note to Mr. Miller: sight=vision, site=place.)

These two Boo-Boos were in the A section. I haven't even gotten around to reading the B section yet.