ScotRail blunder highlights need for accuracy in news writing

Posted on October 22, 2012

 

Transport company ScotRail has published information posters bearing an unfortunate spelling mistake. The posters mistakenly named the town of Airdrie as ‘Airdire’, an error which could be seen as unintentionally funny as well as less than complimentary about the town.

The posters had been designed to announce a change to a service, and had been published at a railway station in Glasgow. Posters had also been sent to other towns on the affected route. The issue highlights a major concern shared by online news providers, who need to ensure that copy is accurate before it is published.

In the case of ScotRail, using a traditional way to communicate news, the posters were originally seen by people using local trains –  a relatively small number of people. However, because the error caught the eye of reporters and because of the amusing nature of the typo, the story has been picked up and distributed online where it can be read by many thousands of people.

News writing often finds a larger audience than predicted, as news stories with an interesting or unique aspect tend to be reported by many websites. For those providing news content, it’s vital that the stories attract attention for the right reason and not because of an embarrassing mistake or inaccuracy. In ScotRail’s case, the company has had to re-print the posters and hope that the story is forgotten quickly. For newer businesses that may be building their reputation with web content, this type of blunder should be avoided at all costs.

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