NO CELEBRATION PARTY TODAY is complete without party hats, noisemakers, and of course a large dead fish. At the climactic moment, the host will wave the huge seafood carcass at guests, who will exclaim: Yeah! Go, us! Dead fish! Stinky! Etc.
This Japanese tradition is spreading. Sumo wrestlers have done it for years, but at last month’s election in Japan, the reading of results was immediately followed by winning politicians reaching for dead fish.
I thought the tradition may have crossed to Europe when a reader last week forwarded me a report from a UK newspaper called the Western Mail:
But the reader said that he thought “clenched fish” was a misprint. So perhaps something else was intended: the guy waved a “clenched buttock” at the Prime Minister’s face?
But talking of misprints, I’d say the best correction currently on the New York Times website is this:
I see why they fixed it. Journalists are job-hoppers: they never stay in one post for more than three or four centuries.
That in turn reminded me of one of my all-time favorite misprints, which was in the International Herald Tribune. It said that the Washington offices of the Watergate prosecutor were sealed “on orders of the White Mouse”…
I had to think about that for a while, since both options were equally believable: top level US decisions were made by the “White House” or by a mysterious pale rodent?
My favorite Asian misprint came from a Hong Kong newspaper, which accidentally changed
“the arrests were made by uniformed detectives”
A police officer present at the incident told me that the miss-spelt version “was accidentally more accurate”.
Staying with the topic of journalism, the last Newsweek magazine has just been published. Rest In Peace.
It was a great mag and its reporters produced some mega-scoops, such as “the US President is having an affair with an intern called Monica”, an exclusive which would have had more impact if the editor had actually published it, but you can’t have everything.
When I was a kid, my journalist father was once summoned by Newsweek’s editor. The boss told him that the columns he wrote for Newsweek triggered way more mail than the work of other columnists, which was a puzzle, since his were the only ones which did not focus on big news topics of the day.
“But that’s WHY I get more mail,” my father explained.
(This columnist’s father)
News outlets need to balance worthy but dull “Geo-Politics Proceeds as Usual” reports with lively home-grown stories, such as “Local Woman Gives Birth to Fish”, etc. (Which explains the existence of this column.)
And of course funny misprints. The LA Times once printed a tale about a guy called Lamb which became a classic although it had just one superfluous letter:
“Butt cracks eventually appeared in Lamb’s public persona.”
HAPPY NEW YEAR.