Maybe it’s upsetting to make a mistake no matter where you work.

But when what you do is broadcast immediately to tens of thousands of people in big block letters… well, errors and typos are the kind of thing that keep me awake at night.

I think the most nerve wracking part of writing for a newspaper is coming across a “fuzzy” fact, late at night, on deadline. You look down at your notes and you’re not quite sure you have it right. I mean, the notes say one thing, but something about it doesn’t seem to jive. It’s too late to make a flurry of calls, and no way to write around it. Leaving out the fact could, by omission, imply something that isn’t true.

In the end, I usually decide to trust my notes. It’s better to go by a source then to simply write what “sounds right.” The person who gave me the information might have made an error, but at least I can attribute the facts to them.

Of course, it’s a hard case to explain to the Monday morning quarterbackers when you do miss the mark. When I come into work and find a note from my editor and an email inbox stuffed with preachy accusations… I’m usually tempted to call out sick on the spot.

But I’m learning to roll with the punches. Even the most meticulous news operation makes mistakes, and it’s a part of the nature of the game. I’ve yet to see a newspaper without a corrections page. I’m learning, more and more, that I can take a beating, shake it off and go with my life.

Which is good, because there are only so many mornings I can spend hiding under my desk!

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 11:59 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s certainly helpful to learn to ‘roll with punches’ and ‘shake off’ the beatings the world sometimes gives us.
    As a recovering perfectionist (I don’t think there’s a cure), I’ve tried to learn this myself. Thanks for sharing your trauma. It’s more helpful than hiding under the desk 🙂

  2. No one is perfect. As long as you go with facts (even if they are misleading), you should consider yourself a good reporter. Great insights.

  3. I just found a major boo-boo on the TITLE PAGE of my thesis- the day after I turned it in for publication. Whoops. Oh well! Off to the studio for some mud therapy 🙂

  4. Wow, interesting and insightful….just goes to show how many of us never give a thought to the drama behind the gathering and presentation of the news!!!

    Now that you bring up this topic, I do remember a weekly TV drama…Paper Chase. If the brain cells are firing correctly, I believe that show gave a pretty good idea of the flurry and panic behind the scenes regarding accuracy and deadlines.

    The fact that you even question tells me you are a conscientous reporter with the desire to always tell the story with truth and integrity….how can you possibly lose???

    Mary of Brush It On

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