The auto-correct feature on smartphones is quickly becoming both a blessing and a curse to reporters. While speed-typing to tweet a quote or respond to an email, a typo can quickly be corrected without having to stop. But like a GPS, sometimes things go really wrong.
While at the Democratic convention, Roll Call HOH‘s Neda Semani live-tweeted former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist‘s speech. The governor suddenly became a very high ranking figure. “It kept correcting Crist to ‘Christ,’ which I didn’t realize until after,” Semani told FBDC.
Politico‘s Ben White has had his own issues with spelling software. “Not for nothing but my spell check wants to change ‘Stephanopoulos’ to ‘postmenopausal,’” he tweeted last month.
Jen Bendery at HuffPost has also felt the sting of auto correct. “I usually catch auto-correct mistakes before hitting send,” she said, “but one thing that is super annoying (and happens all the time) is when I hurriedly write ‘seriously’ and ‘aerioauky’ fills in.” Bendery said she wasn’t sure if aerioauky is a word. (We’ve consulted an American dictionary and confirmed it is not.)
And on and on it goes. Below is a compilation (undoubtedly an incomplete one) of the trials and tribulations journalists have had with auto correct:
Slate‘s Dave Weigel told us no matter how many times he types in his “favorite phrase,” his phone always adjusts it to say “I don’t give a shot.”
Last year WaPo‘s Tim Craig sent out a tweet that was supposed to be about D.C. compensating fire department workers. It ended in a much messier tweet (emphasis ours): “Also, couldn’t argument be made 24 hours shits would be cheaper for city,” Craig wrote. “Big fires last hours, so more OT would be paid if 12 hour shifts?”
Over the weekend, Fox News’ White House Correspondent Ed Henry tweeted, “Adventures in Auto-correct: ‘We made a pistol at Shake Shack’ — um ‘pit stop’!”
Last month Reuter‘s Sam Youngman tweeted, “Today’s traveling tune: ‘Home Sweet Home’ by Mötley Crüe.” The dots above the “o” and “u” are called umlauts. AP‘s Henry Jackson tweeted at Youngman that he was “impressed” by them.. “Not me. Auto correct knows how to party,” said Youngman. Jackson replied, “I always suspected auto correct had a hard-rock streak in him/her.”
Goodie two shoes Tim Wong, who works on WaPo‘s mobile design team, said he proofreads his messages and hasn’t had any auto correct mishaps. “I learned to never depend on spell check in J-school,” he said. Wong added, however, that auto correct is “probably one of the cardinal enemies of the Twitter hashtag.”
SiriusXM/P.O.T.U.S Radio’s Julie Mason has also faced down the curse of the correction function. “I constantly ask others to ‘wait a sex,’” she said. “I had a colleague once whose byline, via auto correct, became ‘John Maggot.’”
And in a pool report last month, Yahoo! News‘ Oliver Knox noted that David Plouffe‘s last name “generates all manner of oddball auto correct suggestions.” In the Firefox web browser, suggested replacements for “plouffe” are “souffle” and “pouffe.”
Freelance video journalist Markette Smith told us she “always” has problems with auto correct. In the past she sent texts meant for her husband to her boss twice. Thankfully it was “nothing too damaging.”
Avid conservative tweeter Kevin Eder wrote last month, “I don’t even know why I bother tweeting from my phone. It never, ever ends well. #typos #errors #fail”
BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynski tweeted in September that he “often get[s] in trouble” typing “it’s” verses “its” thanks to auto correct.
Our favorite comes from WaPo‘s Erik Wemple. He experienced a particularly awkward screw-up while corresponding with an executive at Allbritton Communications (his employer at the time). The executive had asked Wemple to do something. “I was happy to comply with the request and was in a rush, so I wrote ‘NP.’ That is, short for “no problem.” But auto-correct rendered it as ‘NO,’” Wemple said. Needless to say, he had to smooth things over.
On the other hand, there’s the ever cautious ABC 7 daytime anchor Steve Chenevey. To avoid mishaps, he has done what many may eventually do — he turned off his work phone’s auto-correct feature. Safe and sound.
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