Don’t tell me spelling isn’t important

Are you a copy editor? In “The lonely life of the lowly copy editor,” this “human spellchecker and guardian of the newspaper’s arcane style guide” is nonetheless considered low person on the totem pole, not trusted with “real” writing, just with the last-minute proofreading and editing. I imagine it’s about the same in a non-newspaper setting.

While I’m not a copy editor, I found this a very apt read for the changes the digital age has put upon traditional jobs. I also found it disturbing.

“[O]nline news sites and blogs tend to be nearly completely unconcerned with the kinds of typos and grammatical errors that copy editors are paid to seek out and fix. […] If a few words here and there are misspelled, so what? We’re smart enough to know it hardly matters to the quality of the story or argument.”

I disagree, wholeheartedly and with gritted teeth. Even if you pay the barest amount of attention to what’s being said online, you’ll see a lot more than a few misspelled words, not to mention a blithe disregard of grammar and sentence structure. A typo is one thing–I make my share–and literary style is another, but consistent mistakes jar me right out of the story and lessen its quality.

So who’s saying we shouldn’t care about spelling and grammar–the people who are already making the mistakes, or people who have somehow risen above such “petty” concerns? Is there an overlap?

Tell me in the comments below, and let me know the worst mistake you’ve seen.

Pic found at what looks like a very interesting blog here. In fact, read the first post.