We are human; we make mistakes.
In the news business, those mistakes when printed are in front of the public’s eye. They can embarrass, enrage or inflame a part of our community, which is never our intention.
We’re embarrassed and often pretty angry with ourselves, too, when a careless error gets into print.
As managing editor, I am the first and last stop on the complaint chain regarding errors. The two-part question I get most often is: “What’s wrong with you people? Did you ever hear of proofreaders?”
The answer to that is a) we’re human, and b) proofreading as a single job title went out with hot type, which was a change in our industry 40-some years ago. We do “proof” our pages, but the editors who do that are juggling other work at the same time, and they may not catch every mistake on a page.
That is not a good excuse, but it’s reality. Editors proofing pages are as human as the people who misspelled a word, or printed the wrong name in a headline, in the first place.
After a glaring error, readers often demand “a retraction.” A retraction, or taking back a mistake, is impossible in print. More than anyone, we at Berks-Mont Newspapers wish we could take back mistakes as if they never happened. But print is unforgiving.
Retractions aren’t possible. We have to settle for lessons learned.
The Southern Berks News recently printed a headline that said the wrong board member had resigned. We wholeheartedly regret this error and apologize to the school district, board members and the community.
As managing editor, I take responsibility for this error. We made the error late in the editing process. In an attempt to be clever with the headline during layout, we grabbed the wrong name from the story. Unfortunately, the error was not caught in the final proofing stage.
We posted a correction notice on Facebook and Twitter and are re-publishing the story in print with the correct headline in the July 10 issue.
Lisa Mitchell is managing editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.