2005.12.21 Not done

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It’s always dangerous to make light of another newspaper’s errors. Generally, it’s the guaranteed way to find something embarrassing in your own paper in the next edition. There’s just some odd law of the universe at work here.

I ran across a website that catalogues errors and corrections throughout the year and comes up with a list of favorites. This is their Correction of the Year:

“The Denver Daily News would like to offer a sincere apology for a typo in Wednesday’s Town Talk regarding New Jersey’s proposal to ban smoking in automobiles. It was not the author’s intention to call New Jersey ‘Jew Jersey.’”

The Typo of the Year award went to a Reuters report about the recall of “beef panties.” The Dallas Morning News earned first runner up with: “Norma Adams-Wade’s June 15 column incorrectly called Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk a socialist. She is a socialite.”

The Guardian from London offered this correction: “In our G2 cover story about Hunter S. Thompson yesterday we mistakenly attributed to Richard Nixon the view that Thompson represented ‘that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character.’ On the contrary, it was what Thompson said of Nixon.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story not once, but twice, about a Slovakian man who urinated his way to freedom after getting caught in an avalanche with 60 half-liter bottles of beer. A correction noted that it was a popular internet myth.

Last August, a Fox News reporter gave the address of a terrorist in Los Angeles. It’s true that the man lived there—three years ago—but the family now living there was in for a very unpleasant few weeks. The reporter apologized and said “Mistakes happen.”

WE HAD a few corrections of our own during the past year. Six, to be exact, plus a couple of clarifications.

There was my mathematical error regarding Morenci’s sewage rate increase expressed as a percentage, and even an explanation of how I made the error. That way I only looked foolish instead of stupid.

Our Most Embarrassing award was in regard to the relationship between Clare Fauver and Janet Schultz. First, we listed a correction. The next week we listed a correction to the correction. “A correction in last week’s Observer was still incorrect.”

I recently received a seven-page letter—unsigned, of course—criticizing my coverage of large farms and manure discharges. One of the complaints is that I listed the owners of the Chesterfield Township dairy as “van de Kolk” instead of “Van de Kolk.” I’ve seen various spellings, but I thought it would be safe to go with the one listed at the Vreba-Hoff company website. After all, that’s the company that helped them get established and grow. So I don’t I know if Vreba-Hoff is wrong and the letter-writer is right, but I do know the writer is very perturbed with this newspaper.

Since becoming what he calls a “Mega-newspaper” and adding more Fayette coverage, the writer thinks our errors have become more numerous.

Hmmm, half of our corrections related to Fayette stories. First came the embarrassing mixup of graduates’ GPAs. There was some sloppy work in that top five feature. At least twice we’ve referred to Paula Schaffner as president of the school board. Maybe next year she’ll be elected to that post.

And finally, our last correction of the year was about incorrectly printing the phone number of Judy Kunkle, the hickory nut lady from west of Fayette. She ended up selling all her nuts anyway.

Occasionally someone on the staff will take the dangerous step of writing a stupid headline that they know will be changed before the paper goes to press. So far, they’ve all been caught.

That wasn’t the case at the Hillsdale Daily News last week when an employee added an item about the marriage of a couple of Waldron men to the social news. One is a council member; the other a former mayor.

The item didn’t get proofed and the reporter now has “former” attached to his title.

The Des Moines Register published a column with the headline “Not Done.” It turns out it was just a rough draft. Sounds like a good idea to me. That’s probably what half my readers think anyway.

  - Dec. 21, 2005

 

  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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