One of my biggest pet peeves as an editor is a trend known as “story creep.” After a big story dies down, journalists try to sum it up quickly in one paragraph. In the rush to simplify, they get it wrong.

Here’s a LA Times correction from a few days ago that illustrates my point:

An editorial Saturday about children’s literature and cartoons erroneously stated that James Dobson of Focus on the Family declared that SpongeBob SquarePants is a homosexual sponge. Instead, in a speech last month, Dobson criticized as pro-homosexual a tolerance video featuring SpongeBob, Big Bird and others.

The offended aren’t always conservative. From a Reuters story:

Democratic Sen. John Kerry, whose baffling explanation of votes on Iraq war funding hurt his 2004 White House bid, said on Tuesday he would back President Bush’s new $81.9 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Baffling explanation” is too harsh and subjective. It wasn’t baffling to Kerry or his supporters, many of whom maintained he remained perfectly consistent on the issue.

My rewrite:

Democratic Sen. John Kerry, whose explanation of votes on Iraq war funding drew criticism during his 2004 White House bid, said on Tuesday he would back President Bush’s new $81.9 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan.