The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

February 9, 2008

Seeing the errors of my ways


Hey, remember me? I'm the genius who predicted John Edwards would win the Democratic nomination.

It says here that the Democratic Party nominee for president will be (kindly pause here for a drum roll) ... John Edwards.

Yup, that was me about a year ago.

A bit of advice: When you're through reading this bit of doggerel, carefully cut it out of the newspaper, preserve it under glass for _ oh _ about 14 or 15 months ...

... Then (and this is very important) remove it from the glass before you shove it into my face.

Feel free to accompany this action with appropriate pejorative remarks about how I must have been drunk or on drugs when I made that John Edwards prediction back in January of 2007.

I was neither drunk nor on drugs when I wrote those words. I don't know whether that makes it better or worse.

The bottom line is, I was wrong. I made a mistake.

The preceding paragraph contains 11 words in a sequence we are extremely unlikely to hear from any of the characters who might actually become our next president.

Even waterboarding wouldn't get Hillary Clinton to admit her votes authorizing and funding the war in Iraq were mistakes.

You won't find Barack Obama conceding that there is anything in his memoir, "Dreams From My Father," that is anything but the gospel truth despite pretty solid evidence to the contrary.

Mitt Romney looking into a camera and saying that he's flip-flopped on every major social issue from abortion to gun control to gay rights to immigration to campaign-finance reform?

Don't be absurd.

John McCain's "straight talk express" was on the right track when he voted twice against the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. But now he seems to have a tough time remembering those votes and wants to make the tax cuts permanent.

Mike Huckabee?

We're not likely to hear him admit that raising his right hand in that May debate to indicate he doesn't believe in evolution was a blunder that could keep him from being McCain's choice for vice president.

As for our current president, Mr. Bush was asked during his 2004 re-election campaign to name his biggest mistake.

He said he couldn't think of even one.

Well, one of the nice things about newspapers is that they have a special place every day to chronicle the errors of the previous day or days.

It has become my custom early in each new year to reveal how many corrections The Daily Star has run in the previous 12 months and to highlight the real beauties.

As I have mentioned in the past, we have most assuredly made far more factual errors than we corrected. But we correct every one brought to our attention.

Not included are spelling errors _ unless we've misspelled someone's name _ or the many grammatical atrocities we've committed.

So, here goes:

In 2007, we ran 176 corrections or clarifications. That number is down from the 202 we had in 2006 but higher than the 155 we owned up to in 2005.

I don't think we got any smarter in 2007 than in the previous year or appreciably dumber than we were in '05.

The number of corrections varies because more or fewer folks bring errors to our attention, more or less erroneous information is supplied to us, or we just do a better or worse job of catching our own miscues.

The one thing that I can't stress strongly enough is how diligent our copy editors, reporters and photographers are about wanting to get things right.

Yes, mistakes are made, but it's not because of a lack of dedication or effort. There's a reason, after all, why the smart people who manufacture pencils put erasers on one end.

Thankfully, last year we didn't have the kind of major embarrassment we've had to point out in the past when we've been hoaxed or we've misunderstood something important.

That doesn't mean each boo-boo doesn't make me grimace. Our first correction of 2007 was necessitated by our misspelling the name of a local hospital spokeswoman we have quoted and referenced hundreds of times.

The last one of the year was a clarification concerning phone numbers that weren't supplied to us about a church's lasagna dinner.

In between, we made errors great and small all year long. As editor, I take full responsibility for each and every one.

There's nothing really awful about admitting you make mistakes.

But, of course, I could be wrong.

___

Sam Pollak is editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at spollak@thedailystar.com or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208.