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Please pardon our mistakes



Published: Sun, May 6, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


I have a correction to make.

In last week’s column, I mistakenly reported that the Covelli Centre generates $1 million in city income taxes.

However, it’s $1 million in payroll, from which 2.75 percent then becomes income taxes for the city.

It was my error. In gathering the information on income taxes among all the other taxes generated by the facility, the interview rolled from staff payroll to contract workers to even the entertainers. In that reporting process, the information got confused. I applied logic, too — beer server plus stage crew plus Elton John is a lot of money. So it seemed OK. I was wrong in fact and in logic.

I thought I’d place it here as opposed to our normal place on Page A2 because corrections have been a unique topic of late for us.

Two weeks ago, Managing Editor Mark Sweetwood got into a spirited chat with a testy reader about our corrections.

This past week, we’ve been engaged in patient discussion with another person about how to handle an error they were involved with.

Corrections are an unfortunate and inevitable part of our business.

In some ways, if a newspaper is not making corrections, they’re either hiding their mistakes or not working hard enough to either make news or make corrections.

Mind you — we don’t seek to have errors and misinformation. But consider the nature of our business:

On any given day, there are up to 20 news generators on our staff — reporters, clerks and editors. They are gathering and inputting news from a variety of sources:

The generators attended a public news event — from a speech to a conference to a basketball game. Or they created their own public event by going to a noisy story site such as V&M Star or a middle school. Or a public event created itself in the name of screaming sirens and chaos of a fire or a shooting.

Or we received news from a press release, fax or email that was written by some staffer in some organization who may have been the president, the secretary, an intern or a manager in a hurry to go on vacation.

And we’re always working the phones in the imperfect world of telecommunications.

That’s just the gathering. There are about 20 people a day in the newsroom who edit all of that material. Some items get one edit; some get two; and tougher, more intricate, pieces get three or four edits.

That editing is not just a fixing process for typos. It’s also an area where new writing happens. An editor might like a better phrasing or transition. Another editor might insert a bit of history or context that the reporter or previous editor did not know or did not think of amid their flurry of tasks. Photo captions follow this same flow as well, as do high-school softball recaps and church-dinner listings.

And all of this — from the first word on a document at 7 a.m. to the last period of the last sentence at midnight — happens every single day.

Cut and fold the paper into the size of one of those small romance novels, and The Vindicator essentially is the size of a small novel every day. Every day, a new newspaper rolls off our factory line. We don’t get to make the same product over and over every day.

So in making a novel every day, sadly, errors will happen — due to the reporter, the editor or the manager heading out for vacation.

What should be understood about our corrections on Page A2 is that we have them. TV and radio media go through the same amount of errors that print media does — guaranteed. Our mistakes have the misfortune to maintain the permanency of print that people can see all day, and ridicule us should they choose, as the caller did with Mr. Sweetwood.

Sweetwood told the ridiculous ridiculer that it’s actually fortunate to be able to see our errors all day, all the time.

You at least know, in the end, the correct information.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes e-mails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.


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