Margaret Holt, standards editor at the Chicago Tribune, kindly responded yesterday to questions about why errors recently have plagued the paper’s weather page.
“The weather page is produced for the Chicago Tribune through a collaborative effort with the WGN-TV news department,” she wrote in an email. The Chicago Tribune owns WGN. “I asked the producer who coordinates the project for WGN about these errors.”
That person, she wrote, “explained that WGN editors had some recent schedule shifts and production issues that, in combination, reduced the amount of editing time on deadline. As a result of these problems, he says, a new deadline schedule has been implemented and he has been working with Tribune editors to give the desk more time on the print product.”
It will be gratifying to see the Chicago Tribune’s weather page meeting professional standards again, but it won’t be as much fun. Each day of reading it was like panning through the usual drab verbiage for gold, and these are the latest nuggets:
On 1/31: “Some lake effect flurries early the mixed sun and clouds.”
On 2/5: “High peak in the middle 30s then slide into the 20s as wind shift into the north and increase to 15-25 mph.”
On 2/6: “Some glazing late and overnight as temps slowly fall below freezing” and “Drizzle and light rain will develop this weekend, resulting in some glazing…”
It’s probably tough on weather-page wordsmiths to confine their writing to the repetitive phrases of forecasting. Boredom must tempt them to liven up the page with an occasional flourish such as “glazing,” which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as, “The action, process or trade of fitting windows with glass.” Not mentioned is this commonly understood meaning: “The process of adding a delicious, sugary coating on doughnuts.”
Readers aren’t likely to think that rain and falling temperatures will cause windows or sugar coating to appear on the landscape. But to eliminate any possible question about the substance, the word “iciness” would do nicely.