AS OMBUDSMAN, I have been lucky to receive a steady flow of e-mails and letters from readers, informing me of both general opinions and particular areas of concern. Some weeks, however, the constant stream of e-mails is not something to celebrate. For example, this week there were far too many targets for contention - spelling and grammar errors were rampant. In an effort to minimize the pain, I simply will list the errors:
Tuesday, Feb. 1: "Diary of a Rushee" - "In short, rush sucks ... and thank the rush Gods that it's over." When written in the plural, gods is never capitalized. See also, "As a second year, my ties to friends ... strained in different directions." The intro clause refers to a single subject that is not present in the main sentence clause itself. Correctly stated, the sentence might read "As a second year, I found my ties to friends strained in different directions" or "While I was a second year, my ties to friends became strained."
Wednesday, Feb. 2: "Virginians lightweights when it comes to heavy-duty cold" - "Weather-related news regular heads the front page of The Cavalier Daily." No doubt this is just a typo - there is an obvious need for an adverb. See also "Facing a smackdown!" - "'Sit down!' screamed a chubby little boy with glasses, sporting a Rock T-shirt bigger than he ... " What is needed in this sentence is the reflexive pronoun "himself" rather than the personal pronoun "he."
Thursday, Feb. 3: "Exposing e-hoaxes"- "Salthouse ... said she became suspicious because of the unusual grammer." No comment needed.
In truth, the staff and editors at The Cavalier Daily do a great job catching "the big stuff." They check their facts, are careful when quoting, and word their stories carefully. Even so, mistakes of the sort listed above are just embarrassing (and depressing, too, when they start clogging your Inbox).
A request for sports
One reader wrote in requesting that box scores and summaries of men's and women's basketball games be made regularly available in the Sports pages. The reader noted that "Boxscores and summaries of U.Va. sporting events provide an excellent historical record and provide insights for the contest."
I believe this is an excellent suggestion and suggest that the scores at least be made available online and referenced in the print version of the paper. Currently, sports writers do a good job of explaining the events of a game in terms of percentages. For example, Tuesday's account of the Virginia women's basketball team's victory over Duke explained the victory in terms of Duke's limited three-point shooting (17 percent), but there is no reference for where to turn if you want a play-by-play description of the game's many turnovers or the exact number of shots each team attempted.
A picture is worth ... what?
Two readers wrote in to question the presentation of the photography displayed recently in the paper. The problem is not with the quality of the individual photographs - although there are still too many loosely connected buildings being attached to stories - as it is with how those photos are linked with articles. As one reader noted, the Associated Press photograph at the bottom of Page 2 in Thursday's issue of Joerg Haider, leader of the Austrian right-wing Freedom Party, is not clearly captioned. In fact, it is hard to tell from the photo which individual is Haider. On Wednesday, an oddly angled photo of Honor Committee Chairman Hunter Ferguson accompanies a story about Ayola Greene's suit against the University and the Honor Committee.
While I understand that procuring a photo of Greene might prove difficult, I do not see why we should put in a photo that is only loosely tied to the article's text. Ferguson is not even quoted on the front page.
Similarly, in "Odds and Ends" from the same issue, photos of Robert Frost and W. H. Auden accompany a story on a poetry presentation in which neither poet is even mentioned. The idea of matching pictures of poets with the short blurb was a good one, but they should at least match the story. Are pictures of Milton so hard to find?
Reviews and features
I confess to being confused by Ben Nuckols' article on Regal Cinemas. Given his story's length, placement and accompanying picture, I assumed we were being treated to a feature story on the status on film viewing in our area. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found that the numerous headings stuck throughout the article simply served as brief pauses in what was essentially a review of Regal Cinemas' undoubtedly egregious failure to satisfy its viewing public.
I have no problem with the sentiment expressed - my job, after all, is not to criticize the personal opinions of the staff. I do, however, become concerned when the purpose of an article is not clear. The opinion given by Mr. Nuckols could have been expressed just as well in a succinct column. There is a need for features that focus on the entertainment community in Charlottesville, but these articles should be examples of news and should report more than a single opinion.
In conclusion, I would like to draw attention to the strong coverage that has been given to the presidential race and party primaries. Not only have Clark Williams and Emily Roper done an outstanding job of presenting the facts, they have managed to do so in an interesting and fair way. Write and tell me what you like best about The Cavalier Daily. I look forward to hearing from you. Write me at Ombudsman@CavalierDaily.com.
(Kelly M. Jolley is a Cavalier Dailyombudsman.)