Recently, I have been unable to read an entire daily newspaper without coming across blatant errors ranging from the inability to differentiate between "affect" and "effect", to the misuse of phrases like the one I pointed out in my last post ("worse" and "worst"). If only newspapers still had editors who proof read submissions before sending them to print much of these problems would disappear.
The fact that a google search for the term "worse case scenario" produces over 200,000 results is a testament to the fact that people do not think about what they write, nor do they re-read what they have written to make sure there aren't these mistakes. Pause, and think for one moment about what "worse case scenario" literally means.
You got it yet? Ok, take another 30 seconds and think it over...
Ok, time's up. It means a "not as good" scenario, or a slightly more bad scenario. That would be fine if that was what they meant to say, but clearly when flashing enormous graphics across the screen in an effort to terrify the public and stoke fears of Mexicans carrying deadly diseases, the message they were attempting to communicate was the very "baddest" of the bad scenarios....the "worst" possible outcome.
So where does this lack of ability to communicate effectively come from? Part of it, I believe, comes from the laziness with which people enunciate these days. If when you say the word "worst" you sort of drop the 't' at the end, soon you will begin to think you are saying "worse". Now, I'm not saying that everyone should go around saying "ay-fect" and "ee-fect" but certainly the lack of proper enunciation contributes to the lack of proper spelling.
The real problem is probably our complete and total reliance on the spell checker. In that sense, Microsoft has become the grand authority on spelling and grammar. After all, if you don't get a little green or red squiggly under what you write, it must be correct. Too bad Gates and company were unable to figure out the user's intent in their writing.
As for a solution to this dilemma, I can not think of any actions that will properly affect the media industry to resume editing their work, nor can I think of something that can be done that will have the desired effect on the public and encourage them to enunciate clearly and correctly. For now, I will continue to announce the most egregious errors here and on any forums available where the offending article is located. I invite you all to do the same.