A misspelling in a publication will embarrass a writer, but most will forgive and forget the mistake. That may not be the case, however, for a misspelling etched in a bronze statue erected outside a major university building for journalism students .
That's exactly what happened at Indiana University with a statue unveiled October 17, 2014, of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ernie Pyle. The statue depicts Pyle sitting on an ammunition box, concentrating on the portable typewriter in front of him with papers scattered all around. From afar, everything looks perfect, but take a closer look at the press patch on Pyle’s left arm and you’ll notice a spelling error. Instead of "correspondent," the patch reads "corespondent."
Of course, a "correspondent" is a journalist who sends stories to an employing newspaper from a distant location, while a "corespondent" is someone who has a lawsuit filed against them, usually having to do with committing adultery in a divorce proceeding. Obviously, Indiana University was embarrassed by the misspelling .
"Ernie Pyle would have been amused by the misspelling, just as he would have been amused by the whole idea of the statue," commented Owen Johnson , an associate professor at IU. "He never had a sense of self-importance. He probably would have invited [sculptor] Tuck Langland to join him for a drink and then written a humorous column about the whole thing, publicly forgiving Tuck."
Johnson may be right, but Pyle, who lost his life while corresponding from the Pacific Islands in 1945, isn’t around today to help things blow over.
Langland offers three suggestions for dealing with the mistake: leave it alone to become "part of the lore of the piece;" remove or cover the old patch, replace it, and correct the spelling; or grind down the word until it’s no longer visible.
Whichever option Indiana University chooses, it’s clear that misspellings can tarnish an image. Avoid being embarrassed by a misspelling. Learn more about communicating well by contacting Hurley Write, Inc .
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