EDITOR’S NOTE: The sickening feeling of seeing a Page One mistake

CHARLES TOWN – How much do I wish I’d noticed that “Wednesday, September 25, 2013” beside the paper’s nameplate on last week’s front page not when it landed on my desk the morning of Oct. 2 but hours before when I could still have had it fixed?

Short answer: A lot.

And the long answer? As they say on Facebook, “it’s complicated.”

I should have caught the mistake. Others in the newsroom should have checked the date and gotten the change made. For many years, when the Spirit (and most other papers) were printed in house, one staff member stayed late into the night to review the new edition as it began to roll off the press.

An incorrect date on Page One would have been just the sort of big mistake that would prompt the late-shift copy editor to yell “Stop the presses!” and spend the time and money to get a correction made.

But the Spirit’s office no longer houses a printing press. Our paper is printed in Cumberland, Md., and none of our staff sees the finished product until a driver picks up the bundled stacks on Wednesday morning. I’ll confess, many a Wednesday morning has begun with at least a mild profanity.

It was disheartening to see that mistake in print. We know it likely created confusion for those looking for this week’s issue of the Spirit in stores. But our only recourse is to put in place practices that will ensure such a mistake can’t happen again.

We can’t send a staff member to Cumberland each Tuesday evening after our finished pages are electronically sent to the printer, but we have created a formal checklist that we’ll have staff members review as they complete their proofreading in our office. Another change will be to print a proof of Page One even before it’s fully completed so that it can be reviewed earlier in the day, when eyes and brains are fresher.

I want our readers to know just how deeply to heart I take a mistake like this. We appreciate that you choose to make our newspaper part of your week. We will continue to do our best to merit your trust.

– Robert Snyder

 

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