Mistakes and corrections

by Walt Maguire
Posted 8/5/21

Last week there was an error in a story I wrote...at the end of a long article with a lot of perfectly accurate facts.

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Mistakes and corrections


Last week there was an error in a story I wrote. Near the end of a recap of some recent events, I added a prediction about an event that would happen the night before the paper came out, which would have been the day after it went to the printer. I had not intended to leave it there; I was working quickly and threw it in as a placeholder, a rough draft to edit or delete. And then I completely forgot about it, there at the end of a long article with a lot of perfectly accurate facts.

This is the sort of thing that can weaken the reputation of a news source, and I would like to think I’m better than that. Especially since, as an editor, it was the sort of error I would normally protect our writers from making. It goes to show (me) that everyone needs someone else to check the work. The line itself was fairly innocuous – I predicted the weather would be good and people would be sitting in the grass at a park – but if things had turned out differently, or if people saw the article prior to the publication date, it would damage the reputation of the people here at the Local who work hard to get things right for the community.

Admitting a mistake is sometimes confused with adjusting to a situation: New mask guidelines are being floated, and this has been interpreted as proof the medical experts don’t know what’s happening. Though it seems more likely they do know what’s happening and are adjusting to the meet the evolving reality. On the other hand, if you’re driving and realize too late you have missed the turn, you have to turn around. The former is keeping up with the facts. The latter is catching up to them.

This is not the first time I have made a mistake. I have a pair of black Slim Fit jeans in the back of my closet, and I wish I could say I have never been seen in public in them. Nor the clownishly baggy tweed pants. I have mistaken kale for arugula and flat parsley for cilantro. I have forgotten birthdays of aunts and nephews. But I usually proofread my work very closely.

There can be points in life when you’re expected to make mistakes. I look back at high school with the feeling the entire purpose of those four years is to keep everyone in a fairly safe place until the growth spurt calms down. The problem crops up when we have enough experience to feel confident enough to do a task without giving it much thought, and then something comes up that reminds us that we’re not as far out of high school as we thought we were.

I wish to announce there was a sale on erasers at the local office supply store and I have stocked up. I have also put up the latest Arnie cartoon to remind myself  to check things over. Again.

Walt Maguire


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