West Coast Editor,
April 2004

The front Sports page of the March 13 Vancouver Sun was noteworthy, but not for the write-up on the Canucks’ overtime win against the Oilers or for the follow-up on Todd Bertuzzi’s infamous sucker punch.

It was noteworthy for its display of chaotic or non-existent editing standards. First, take this error-ridden photo cutline:

“Canucks’ Geoff Sanderson slips the game-winning goal past an outstretched Oilers goalie Jussi Markkanen as Oiler Jason Smith can only watch Friday.”

1) Canucks’ is possessive, but Oilers (without the apostrophe) is adjectival. The writer should have picked one or the other, or perhaps not bothered, since the picture establishes who’s who.

2) The indefinite article “an” must be deleted because the noun in question is definite.

3) Friday is a misplaced modifier that seems to suggest that Jason Smith is transfixed by Robinson Crusoe’s manservant.

Here’s a proper rendering of the cutline: “Geoff Sanderson slips the game-winning goal Friday past outstretched goalie Jussi Markkanen, as Oiler Jason Smith looks on.

The entire question of the adjectival form of “Canucks” appears to confound the paper’s staff. Elsewhere on the page, we read about “Canucks general manager Brian Burke,” “Canuck head coach Marc Crawford,” and “Canuck Todd Bertuzzi.” Perhaps “Canucks” or “Canucks’ ” refers to the team, and “Canuck” refers to individuals. If so, we can add a fourth error to the cutline: improper use of plurals.

Headlines also failed the accuracy test. “Sanderson cashes again” means that he took his paycheque to the bank, or some such thing. The headline should have read “Sanderson cashes in again,” meaning that he took advantage of the situation.

In “Bertuzzi civil suit ‘possible,’ ” the single quotes are unnecessary because there’s nothing ironic or idiomatic in the use of the word. Chronic abuse and overuse of quotation marks is perhaps the most conspicuous failing of modern journalism. Sun editors could use a refresher course.