I have a friend in Austin who wrote a press release on Tuesday and sent it off in an email. Soon after she had emailed it to her distribution list (which includes media) she noticed she had made a typo. Like any writer, your first instinct is to get angry and upset. (at least that’s what I do)
When I spoke to her, she told me she was very mad at herself and could not believe she had done that error. After all, we are all supposed to be professionals and mistakes like these should never happen right?
On Wednesday mornings I like to sit in front of my computer, drinking coffee (yes, it’s Starbucks) and read over story headings and captions before sending off the newspaper to press later in the day.
That is something that I do every Wednesday as part of my duties as an editor. But for some reason, two weeks ago, I didn’t catch that the word “disagreement” was typed out as “disagreemtent” in one of the headings in the front page. Why did that happen I ask? Was I in a hurry? Was I more worried about the article itself? For some reason, I overlooked that heading.
So it was horrifying moment Thursday morning as I updated the website with stories.
“Oh no!” I said out loud. Ok, truth be told, that’s not exactly what I said, but to keep this as reader friendly as possible, that’s what I said.
There have been times when I wake up from what I call a reporter’s nightmare and realize that I forgot to send the paper to press, or that the entire center piece story is missing. Usually I wake up in fear, but relived when I realize it was just a nightmare.
But realizing this was not a nightmare and the paper had printed like this, made things worse.
I tried to make excuses. Well, I was busier than usual that day. I was invited to speak to a class in Van Vleck High School about what I do, and about the newspaper world. When I first saw the misspelled word, the day after the paper had printed; I wanted to hide from everyone and thought about the class I had just spoken to the day before. What will they think of me? I wanted to join the journalist witness protection program. No such thing exists, but I might as well have created one after this misspelling.
That’s something that should never happen. Those close to me know that I am my worst critic and always hard on myself for making mistakes. And I couldn’t let it go. I am the editor, the face of the Matagorda Advocate. If something happens, I am the one people talk to.
So all day Thursday, I felt like I had a big scarlet letter hanging from my neck. Yeah, I may be over reacting, but that’s how personal I take errors that happen in the newspaper.
But hide I could not do.
That day there was a chamber luncheon and I had to attend other events. To let our readers aware of what I had done, I spoke about it on the radio. Listen to Happy Radio 92.5 every Thursday; I am on after the 8 a.m. news :)
After much positive feedback from those I spoke to, I decided to face my mistake head on by posting the front page on Facebook and letting people know what had happened. The feedback was positive. I didn’t feel that bad. Things were feeling better, until I got an email from my boss.
Explaining to him what had happened was like a child trying to blame the younger sibling for the melted crayons in the microwave. There was no way I could blame this on anyone but myself.
“Don’t lose your religion,” he told me.
And he was right. The lesson in all this was not to forget the basics.
Sometimes one can spend the day doing everything and forget to do the most basic things, in this case, using spell-check.
I can joke about this now and accept any and all errors that happen in the newspaper, after all that is how one becomes a better writer.
Share with me an embarrassing moment in your career, email me at: email@example.com
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