In a prime example of Muphry's law, which every journalist has suffered at some heart-sinking moment in their career, the Daily Mail committed a glaring typo in a story on literacy standards.
Muphry's law, not to be confused with Murphy's law, is an old media adage that states if you write anything criticising another person's spelling, you are inevitably doomed to make a typo of your own.
The editorial law, first coined by John Bangsund of the Society of Editors in Victoria, Australia, also dictates that:
If a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you. Your readers will always notice errors in a title, in headings, in the first paragraph of anything, and in the top lines of a new page. These are the very places where authors, editors and proofreaders are most likely to make mistakes.
In the Mail's case, the first edition of the paper misspelled "ill-equipped" in a story on liberal education creating a doomed nation of illiterate adults.
— David Hornby (@DavidHornbyUK) September 10, 2014
The paper quickly amended the mistake in its second edition, but not before eagle-eyed Twitter users had picked up on the error.
The Sun's managing editor, Stig Abell, then himself fell victim to Muphry's law when he accused the Daily Mail of "making sure it's readers feel 'equiped' to tackle literacy'
@guywalters Autocorrect, I fear, but you are totally right! Plonker points for me.— Stig Abell (@StigAbell) September 10, 2014
In another classic example of Muphry's law, The Sun was forced to make a grovelling apology for misspelling the surname of Jacqui Janes on its website - just days after the paper attacked Gordon Brown for doing exactly the same thing in a letter of condolence over her son's death in Afghanistan.