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'Persnickety dude' government lawyer points out New York Times typos on Twitter

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An anonymous appellate lawyer who describes himself as a “persnickety dude” tweets typos from the New York Times as a hobby.

The lawyer works at a government office on federal appeals, including U.S. Supreme Court cases, the Ringer reports in a story noted by How Appealing. He tweets at @nyttypos from a Twitter account that he titled Typos of the New York Times.

The account has an image of one typo that he found—a reference to “Prime Minister Justice Trudeau.”

In addition to catching wrong words, Typos of the New York Times finds misplaced commas, missing periods, improper spacing, subject-verb errors and other problems in the newspaper and its social media accounts.

The tweeting lawyer told the Ringer that he remembers first being bothered by mistakes when looking at restaurant menus at age 5. He has been a longtime reader of the New York Times; teachers have told him that he read the newspaper to kindergarten classmates.

The lawyer has also noticed mistakes in judges’ opinions—some tend to replace “tenet” with “tenant”—but he usually doesn’t complain to the offending judge.

Typos of the New York Times has tweeted more than 20,000 times in less than a year’s time. The lawyer says he is so productive because he doesn’t actually read the publication.

“I’m fortunately rather able to look at the sentences somehow and see if the verbs don’t agree without actually reading anything that they’re saying,” he told the Ringer.

According to the Ringer, the lawyer’s tweets are an indirect result of the New York Times downsizing and also deadline pressures in the internet age.

The New York Times eliminated its 100-plus-person copy desk in 2017 and now uses “strong desks” that handle the whole life cycle of a story. The New York Times is under pressure to quickly post breaking news because Google search results reward publications that are first.

The Ringer spoke with Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times, who said he is happy for the tweeted help. But Liptak said the tweeting lawyer “has yet to master a civil tone, has no sense of proportion, and seems to have no understanding of the pressures of deadline journalism in the internet age.”

Another legal reporter at the New York Times, Charlie Savage, told the Ringer that he would rather be told of mistakes in private.

“A typo is like having something stuck in your teeth—you’d rather someone tell you about it so you can take care of it before more people see it, rather than going through the day like that,” he said.

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