Saint John — A few days ago, the unthinkable happened. A newspaper of international renown published a story about the small Maritime city of Saint John, N.B. But, according to Saint John Mayor Mel Norton, that wasn’t the unthinkable part; the paper also blatantly misspelled the city’s name.
In a Feb. 12 article in The New York Times about the Mill Rats, the author repeatedly misspells Saint John as St. John. When it came to Norton’s attention, he immediately emailed the Times explaining their egregious error. Their response was that it’s their “editorial policy to abbreviate any instance of Saint to the shorter St.” Without exception.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ve never liked The New York Times,” declared Norton from a stranger’s cellphone while boarding a bus to the newspaper’s head office in New York City. “If they won’t change it in the existing article, the least they can do is print an apology to the Mill Rats, to me, and to my city.”
Norton acknowledged that the average New Brunswicker can’t spell Saint John, and that many Saint John residents themselves aren’t crystal-clear on whether that pesky period belongs in their own city’s name. “I realize it’s tricky,” he admitted. “When I saw the Times article, I had to grab a copy of the Telegraph-Journal to cross-reference the spelling. In the issue I picked up, the TJ spelled it ‘St.’ only twice and ‘Saint’ around 5 or 6 times. Those are pretty good odds.”
Longtime Saint John resident Harry Unger is proud of Norton for sticking up for Saint John. “We don’t get no respect,” said Unger, spitting on the ground. “Good on Mel for finally doin’ somethin’ about this. If we let a big-time American paper call us by the wrong name, what’s next? Letting Fredericton call us ‘stinky Saint John’? There’s no tellin’ where it’ll end.”
The Manatee decided to contact The New York Times on behalf of Saint John and ask them to clarify their incorrect and seemingly arbitrary editorial rule for spelling St. versus Saint. We received the following emailed response:
We stand by The New Yorke Thymes’ spelling and grammar choices. It’s plane two us that St. is the correct whey to spell the name of that town in Nova Scotia your talking about. We make sure to fact-cheque stories, and we only right what is write.
the Editer in Cheef”