Now this is why you need good sub-editors

There are times when punctuation really matters – and this is one of them. Remembering to put a hyphen between “first” and “hand” would have saved this Kansas newspaper from a viral humiliation over Twitter.

The high school students in the story were participating in an event called Disability Mentoring Day to gain some first-hand knowledge of the world of work. Unfortunately, the subbing failure in this headline implied a rather less salubrious meaning.

The usual term in any case is “work experience” and there seems to be enough space for it to fit, so it’s even more puzzling that the headline was written in that way.

Maybe if newspapers hadn’t cut back on so many sub-editors over the past couple of decades to help pay for big dividends and executive bonuses, there wouldn’t be so many of these howlers in print now. Subs are more than just glorified spell-checkers.

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