Oops, did we do it again?
I don't really watch a lot of television, but there's one show I can't miss every week - and actually, it's not even the full show; it's just a segment. It's the 'Headlines' segment on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.'
For those of you who have never watched the program, it's basically a collection of user-submitted bloopers taken out of real newspapers, advertisements, church bulletins, etc. For someone in my line of work it's easy to get a good laugh out of these errors, especially since we editors spend a lot of our energy trying to keep embarrassing goofs out of the paper so people will take us seriously.
I found some great bloopers on the Internet; check these out:
- 'Squad helps dog bite victim.'
- 'Panda mating fails; veterinarian takes over.'
- 'Autos killing 110 a day - let's resolve to do better.'
- 'Grandmother of eight makes hole in one.'
- 'Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers.'
- 'Child's death ruins couple's holiday.'
Ads aren't immune to this, either:
- 'Dinner Special: Turkey $2.35; Chicken or Beef $2.25; Children $2.'
- 'For sale: an antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.'
- 'Get rid of aunts: Zap does the job in 24 hours.'
- 'We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.'
- 'Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children.'
Here's the truth: As long as humans are involved in the newspaper business there will always be errors in what we say, how we say it and how we spell it, and The Sandy Post is no different.
It seems that for us, some weeks are worse than others with regard to errors - or at least we're aware of more of them some weeks.
This past week was a doozy. We put the wrong engagement notice with the wrong picture, a flub that elicited calls from not one, but two families who were mildly amused. Luckily they were forgiving people.
We called a suspected fraudster by the wrong last name while working with two sources with very similar names. And for some reason, I decided that last Saturday wasn't the 15th of July, as the calendar says, but the 18th of July. That's the power of the press, my friends.
Of course, that was just last week. In the past 13 months as editor, I've had my share of - as Homer Simpson would put it - 'D'oh!' moments.
I put in a birth announcement for Zachary Groza, son of The Post's advertising rep, Jennifer Groza, but I may have scarred the poor little guy forever by calling him a daughter. Hopefully I haven't created something that Mom will use to embarrass him with his girlfriends later in life. Sorry, Zac.
The first week our (now former) reporter, Eric Hendricksen began with The Post, I put his school district story on the front page as the banner headline. Readers were instructed to 'turn to Page 8A' at a somewhat suspenseful part of the story, but to their horror (and mine) the story never jumped.
In page layout, sometimes designers such as myself take part in the dangerous practice of creating placeholders - you know, putting something temporary on the page with the intent to change it later. I had copied the headline, photo and text from one article and pasted it elsewhere on the page as a placeholder, so I didn't have to draw a new text box, headline or photo box (which would have taken a whole 60 seconds).
Well, I changed the headline and the photo to match my story on the Revenue Bridge, but I forgot to change the body text, which was a feature story. That probably confused a lot of people. I worked from home quite a bit that week.
I run you through all these bloopers to say this: We take our responsibility to be accurate and fair in our coverage very seriously. We want to be a newspaper you can count on to get the information right the first time.
But when we do mess up (and all newspapers do, even that unnamed big one downtown), we hope you'll realize that there are humans involved, not robots, and that we'll do our best to rectify the situation. We can, and must, admit when we're wrong. And, if it's appropriate and ridiculous enough, we might even have a 'way-to-go-goofball' laugh about it.
At least for the most part, we get our splelnig right