I have no idea how newspapers got anything right before Google.
Most of my 23-year journalism career was pre-Google, and yet, I’m amazed that anything I wrote had any kind of accuracy before that marvelous search engine became available.
When the Internet first began integrating into newsrooms, it didn’t take long for journalists to realize caution was warranted. One of the first rules of journalism must be applied to the Internet, as well: Your information, and reputation, is only as good as your source. And obviously, there are a lot of questionable sources of information on the Internet.
I probably use Google at least a dozen times a day. I check spellings of cities and towns mentioned in obituaries, I double check time zones, I check various titles of people quoted in stories.
Sidebar: This is not an advertisement for Google. I am not in any way affiliated with Google. I have not been compensated in any way by Google. The Internet has lots and lots of search engines, all of which have their pluses. But Google has those cool holiday logos.
If I think back really hard, I believe I used to check my details the old-fashioned way: I asked people to spell things, looked things up on atlases and other reference material most newsrooms had, I called folks who would know for sure.
Most everything related to our legislature is accessible online now, but I remember having to call to request information and waiting two or three days for it to arrive in snail mail. In the snow. Up to my knees. Both ways.
Yes, I’m a dinosaur on copy desk. The other copy editors are young enough to be my children. Grammar and punctuation are still my first priorities in writing – which is not to say I always get it right. But I always strive for that.
And thanks to Google, I can get it right more often!