I’m somewhat conflicted about correcting people. On the one hand, truth and precision. On the other hand, it can make me feel mean. So there are only certain situations in which I feel totally comfortable indulging my predilection. When they appear in the Paper of Record, I have no such qualms – it makes me feel like a real copy editor!
I once caught Thomas Friedman write ‘lightening’ when he meant ‘lightning’, and it was fixed after my correction was the first comment on the article. I’m so excited about that, I’m telling you about it literally half a year later.
So today’s New York Times article about divorce ceremonies was obviously thrilling.
“When people get married, they have a wedding ceremony, they’re making vows and promising to be with each other,” said Barbara Biziou, a wedding officiant in Manhattan and the author of the book Joy of Ritual. “When that dissolves, you need another ceremony to release you from it.”
I’m not going to get into semantics here (‘need’ vs. ‘want’), especially because that debate is inside protective quotation marks. And I normally wouldn’t use my blog as a forum for correcting minor errors in the NYTimes – but since this article doesn’t have a comment section, I will denote in bold one mistake that could have been avoided by a simple Wikipedia fact-check:
Some religions have built divorce ceremonies into their liturgy. (Judaism has a get, a Jewish divorce officiated by a rabbi; the Unitarian Universalist Church has a ceremony of hope, and the United Methodist Church offers a divorce ceremony, but not much else commemorates the ending of a relationship.)
Yet another reminder that, more often than not, journalists don’t really know what they’re talking about.
And if I manage to find one more mistake in the New York Times, one of their reporters will have to write a trend piece about it.