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Posted at 06:01 PM ET, 10/03/2011

Post Roast: Scalia not dead, but bodies usually are

It was a bit of an oops weekend for the obituaries section in The Post, and not by fault of the obituary writers. In an obituary in Sunday’s paper, Oct. 2, page C8, about Peter Terpeluk Jr., a prominent Republican fundraiser and former ambassador to Luxembourg, the accompanying photo was of the still-very-much-alive Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The mistake happened because the photo used for the obituary came from the Terpeluk family and depicted Terpeluk standing next to Scalia at a party. In cropping the photo to fit in the paper, the half of the photo with Terpeluk was supposed to be used but inadvertently the Scalia half was inserted. The corrected photo appeared in Monday’s Metro section, Oct.3, on page B4.

Speaking of the dead, and no disrespect intended, I received this letter from a reader over the weekend, and he raises a good point:

“Why is the Post telling me about ‘dead bodies’ being found? Is that to differentiate them from the ‘live bodies’ being found? Does The Post really think that anyone would think that a ‘body’ was a ‘live’ person and we have to make sure they understand that this person is dead?

Thanks, I feel better now!”

I did a quick search, and, sure enough, a few recent blog posts and stories in The Post talked about “dead bodies.”

Here’s one about drug violence in Mexico:

“Two weeks ago, Mexican drug cartel the Zetas warned all ‘Internet snitches’ to beware, saying that the cartel had their eye on them. The warning was accompanied by the hanging dead bodies of a man and disemboweled woman who had committed the crime of saying too much online.”

Might have been better if it read, “Two weeks ago, Mexican drug cartel the Zetas warned all ‘Internet snitches’ to beware, saying that the cartel had its eye on them. The hand-lettered banner was pasted on a bridge beneath which were tied a dead man and woman; the woman had been disemboweled.

But even the Associated Press made this mistake in a story from Sept. 27. After an opening paragraph saying four people were killed by paramilitary forces during an opposition party protest in the West african country of Guinea, the second paragraph stated: “Opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, who lost last year’s election to President Alpha Conde, told The Associated Press by telephone that one of the four dead bodies was dumped in front of the headquarters of his party, the Union of the Democratic Forces of Guinea.”

Generally, when speaking of bodies, they are, indeed, dead. Occasionally, you need the qualifier, but rarely.

And, finally, production errors were unkind to a photo and caption headlined “Beckon and eggs: A lawmaker’s lunch on the run” on The Fed Page in Monday Oct. 3’s paper. Meant to be what journalists call a “bright” — a light, short piece — the text that accompanied a photo of Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D.-Tex.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) sneaking off to grab a bite of food in between committee votes got mangled. The indentation and spacing of the text was off, and the final sentence ran together the words “shereturns” and, worse, ended in mid-sentence with no period.

Not sure whose fault this was, but the mistakes hurt what could have been a cute slice of Capitol life.

By  |  06:01 PM ET, 10/03/2011

 
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