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Columbia Missourian

DEAR READER: First new Show Me the Errors winner in nine months

By Maggie Walter
October 16, 2011 | 5:11 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Jim Terry has been a consistent winner in the Show Me the Errors contest, but eventually someone else was bound to take the honors.

And, in September, that's exactly what happened. Chris Carmody, a December 2010 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, beat out Terry for the winner's seat with 80 submissions to the contest. 

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Carmody launched a full-on effort to win, he said in a telephone interview. He started playing in late August as he had just accepted a job as a copy editor and page designer at The Island Packet in Bluffton, S.C. He wanted to brush up on his copy editing skills before starting work, he said.

"And I also wanted the grammar book," he said in reference to "The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English" by Roy Peter Clark, one of the two prizes in the contest. As he is just getting started on his professional career, money is a little tight, so he figured winning the book might be the only way he could own it. 

*It's only fitting that the conversation with Carmody took place Friday, which just happened to be his first day in South Carolina for his new job, which starts Thursday. I hope his new employer recognizes Carmody's dedication to copy editing and gives him a raise soon.

Terry had only 16 entries for the month, but that's because as summer ended, so did his free time when he returned to his teaching job at Stephens College.

When told that he had been unseated as the contest winner, Terry said, "Good. That's excellent," and, in his usual generous spirit, added that he was thrilled others are participating in earnest.

Show Me the Errors started on Oct. 1, 2010, and Terry has won in 10 of the 12 months. He submitted four entries in November, allowing an MU graduate journalism major to win. Terry has returned every month since then, though, to claim the title.

Overall in September there were 49 participants who submitted 142 corrections. 

In the column announcing the first winner of the contest, I wrote: "The content of our website is stronger and better because of our contest participants. The reporters and copy editors here are more aware of the need for sharper fact-checking and editing."

It's still true today.

We value every participant and every entry in the Show Me the Errors contest. Besides adding to the betterment of journalism, the prizes are an added incentive. In addition to Clark's book, winners also receive a Missourian T-shirt, so they can be both smart and stylish.

Maggie Walter is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and an interactive night news editor at ColumbiaMissourian.com. She lovingly refers to the ColumbiaMissourian.com newsroom as "the comma company," a riff on "the paragraph factory" coined by cohort John McIntyre at The Baltimore Sun.