Mother Teresa, pray for the copy desk

Hey working journalists! What we have here is a laugh-to-keep-from-crying correction classic. First, a bit of context. Back when I was one of the senior reporters at the Rocky Mountain News (RIP), all of the beat reporters had to take turns doing general assignment work on the weekends. One of the Saturday stories that happened year after year, of course, was the regional finals for the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.

One year, I drew that assignment (which was actually a lot of fun, including a nice religion angle). Before I went out to cover the event, a veteran editor pulled me aside and gave me a great and timely warning. DO NOT DARE, she said, misspell a word in a story about the spelling bee. If you do, your telephone will melt down. You will hear about that mistake for the rest of your life. I avoided that trap.

So, does anyone remember that post the other day (it's still getting comments) about the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, from the folks at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life?

It goes without saying that the New York Times joined legions of other newspapers in covering the story, including the following paragraph:

Among the topics covered in the survey were: Where was Jesus born? What is Ramadan? Whose writings inspired the Protestant Reformation? Which Biblical figure led the exodus from Egypt? What religion is the Dalai Lama? Joseph Smith? Mother Theresa? In most cases, the format was multiple choice.

Well, over at The Atlantic, Erik Hayden noticed that the online version of this story has been revised to include this addition at the end:

Correction: September 29, 2010

An article on Tuesday about a poll in which Americans fared poorly in answering questions about religion misspelled the name of a beatified Roman Catholic nun and Nobel Peace Prize winner. She was Mother Teresa, not Theresa.

As Hayden noted, in a very low-key way:

Unfortunately for the Times editors, the article misspelled the renowned Catholic nun Mother Teresa's name as Mother "Theresa." That the error ironically occurred on an article touting religious literacy will no doubt leave some of the Time's detractors gleefully passing along the correction. ...

Consider it done, even though your GetReligionistas do not enjoy knocking the Times, in part because the newspaper has such an excellent history of printing corrections (attention Washington Post editors).

However, let me take this opportunity to issue a challenge. I am still reading reports on this latest wave of Pew data and I hope others out in GetReligion-reader-land are doing the same. If you find other interesting corrections in stories about the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, by all means share them.

Now, let's see. Are their any of the usual horrible tmatt typos in this post?

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