Invariably, as an editor, I hear comments such as, “How can that happen? Do you not have a proofreader? What are you, a moron? I’ll be glad to help … ” etc. etc.
There are days when I feel like a moron. On rare occasions, I deserve that label.
Still, moron or not, it’s my job to ensure copy is clean. That’s not to say I read every story. Some days, particularly when we have numerous pages to put together, I might only read a handful. I also am involved in page design and ensuring those pages are finished error-free and on time.
The key element in newspaper work is time, or the seemingly constant lack thereof. We have various deadlines each day. And there are days when a kind, thoughtful reporter (I love ’em all, really) will dump a 45-inch story on the desk with only a few precious minutes to provide that copy with three loving edits, a headline and room to include it in that day’s edition.
Other days, by the nature of that day’s compilation of news, we might have ALL front page stories come screeching in right at deadline, or even a few minutes past. Those days can make morons of us all and make readers wonder about our ability.
This is not an excuse blog. Every newspaper makes mistakes and not all are induced by the dreaded deadline bell ringing. Still, the process by which we write, edit and publish is streamlined, and when we derail a bit – say a story falls through or all come to the finish line at once – it can lead to a troublesome day for a reader who finds an error.
To combat this potential for errors, we have a series of deadlines. For example, the front page has its own deadline, as does Page 2, the obituary page, color pages, black and white inside pages, the Sports section front, etc.
All locally written stories get three edits before they are placed on a page. Then, that page is posted in the newsroom for others – reporters, photographers, etc. – to provide a last look.
So if you spot an error, please let us know. I take whatever steps possible to ensure errors are minimal. Also, we correct our mistakes based on where they occur. Page 1 mistakes are corrected on the next day’s Page 1. Inside page problems are fixed on Page 2, Sports in Sports section, etc.
So bear with us. We’re battling monsters, land mines at every turn, skeptical former English teachers who comb our copy at leisure for trouble that we must spot sometimes in few precious minutes.