Dear Mr. Anees Mansour,
I read your article in which you wrote about dictation, grammatical, and print mistakes in Asharq Al Awsat, and complained of their increased recurrence. My response is inspired by an eloquent statement by a philosopher which I first read in one of your books when I was still a secondary school student; it goes as follows:" Give me a line written by the most cautious writer, and I will still find in it mistakes for which the writer deserves to be hung."
On my part, I say give me a single newspaper worldwide that is impervious to print, grammatical, spelling mistakes and sometimes information too, and I will of course not hang anybody, but will write you back conceding . If we take the New York Times for example, we will see that with all its resources it made public 3200 corrections in 2004. In the Arab World, we are the only Arab Newspaper that publishes daily corrections and not just on an occasional basis. We have a tough copy Editor Who incidentally fell ill this week because of my repeated prayers to God, as he has an uncanny ability to make my life difficult.
Therefore, making mistakes is a rule, and not making any is an unheard of blessing. Moreover, we all know "the best repetitive sinners are those who repeatedly repent," and we do so every day. Are our mistakes greater than other newspapers? I think not.
I liked the fact that you mentioned in your article that you were not the only one targeted by perpetual correctors. An example of that is the correction by a reader Moussa Al Swaida” concerning one of your articles in which Moussa writes" the author made another mistake, as the poetry line was not by Al Busiri, the Islamic poet but rather by Al Qassem Al Hariri who died in 510 A.H." as you can see readers have no mercy. I on the other hand am not just targeted by readers but by writers, journalists, authors, technicians, advertisers, printers, Islamists Groups of all variations, censors, and finally governments, and of course lets not forget my publisher. Yes it is hard, but your complaint remains the least harshest.
As for the issue of different usages of letters in transliteration and various writing styles, I am sure you are sure that each newspaper has a distinct "house style". For example, the way I prefer to write "America" in Arabic is different from the spelling the newspaper uses, so I have to abide by the newspaper”s choice. Also in my articles I never use the colons (:); yet the newspaper editor always takes the liberty to include them whenever appropriate. I am engaged in an open battle where I use all my powers as an Editor-in-Chief against our editor Hassan Sati, yet I have yet to win because every newspaper has the right to follow its own traditional "house style". As for your conclusive comment on our web-site not being user-friendly , I simple say buy the print edition, its safer for you and more financially beneficial for us.
My sincerest regards.