Newspaper editors _ as all who know us would surely attest _ are the most affable and delightful members of the human race.
But each day, we all have one interlude when our angelic faces are _ like Hamlet's _ sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.
This daily ordeal occurs precisely at the moment of our first glance at our own newspaper.
While our readers are eagerly and happily ingesting the news we present, the editor's noble heart aches as if beset with one of those thousand natural shocks that made Hamlet so moody.
That's because we always see things we should have done better. If we're fortunate, they're mere newspaper style offenses unlikely to cause outraged mobs with pitchforks and torches to storm the newspaper office gates.
Then, of course, there are those huge, sickening mistakes that make us wish we had gone into another line of work. Commit enough of them, of course, and we will be in another line of work.
I can't speak for all editors, of course, but I doubt you would find any who would claim to have put out even one perfect newspaper.
I certainly haven't, and that's with being blessed with co-workers whose talent is only surpassed by their dedication.
There's this wonderful anecdote about Gene Roberts, who was regarded by many journalists as the premier editor in the country when he headed up the Philadelphia Inquirer in the 1970s and '80s.
The story, told by James M. Naughton and related in a column a few years ago by his Poynter Institute colleague Bob Andelman, concerned Roberts and a fellow who was about to retire from the Inquirer.
Sometimes, when people retire, they're given a plaque or silver tray with some vague platitudes on it to show them how much they will be missed.
After some thought about what to have engraved on this particular tray, Naughton told Roberts that it would focus on the retiree's contributions that "helped to create an excellent newspaper."
Naughton said he thought no more about it until getting woken up the next morning at 7:30 by a phone call from Roberts, who hadn't gone to bed until 3 a.m.
"I've been thinking about this tribute," Roberts said, "and I just can't say that about the paper."
Under Roberts' leadership, the Inquirer won 17 Pulitzer Prizes in 18 years, and he couldn't bring himself to claim excellence ... on a tray that would just wind up on somebody's mantel or coffee table.
Now, there was an editor.
In 2006, The Daily Star ran 202 corrections. That was 47 more than in 2005. Of course, we made hundreds more mistakes that were never brought to our attention, and we violated rules of grammar and punctuation more times than I like to think about.
Moreover, we made many errors of omission ... but not one of volition. We try our best to get things right, and we succeed far more often than we fail.
That we ran more corrections in 2006 than in the previous year doesn't bother me. Maybe we're doing a better job of policing ourselves and encouraging folks to let us know when we make a mistake.
And truth be told, we'll probably run more corrections this year than last. The Daily Star is no longer just a newspaper. We're an Internet website, an outlet for video news, and a full-fledged communications company.
The exciting opportunity to quickly present breaking news on the Internet comes with the reality of shorter, more-urgent deadlines and less time to fully process stories.
We'll try hard to keep up, but inevitably, there will be errors. We'll own up to every one we find out about, just as we do now.
Here are my two favorite Daily Star corrections from 2006:
Back in May, Sports Editor Dean Russin discovered that a part-time clerk _ now understandably a former part-time clerk _ was embarrassingly careless. To his great credit. Dean wrote this correction above the listings of 17 names:
The following high school athletes' names were misspelled in Tuesday's editions of The Daily Star because of a combination of reporters' errors, editors' errors, incorrect information provided by coaches and carelessness.
Even the national wire services are not immune. Here's a correction we ran in early March:
In obituaries Feb. 25 and Feb. 26 for actor Don Knotts, The Associated Press reported erroneously that "The Andy Griffith Show" character Deputy Barney Fife carried just one bullet, in his shirt pocket, after shooting himself in the foot. The character was accident-prone, but never shot himself.
In 2007, we at The Daily Star will do our very best, and like Barney, try very hard not to shoot ourselves in the foot in the process.
Sam Pollak is editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208.
- Sam Pollak
Religion should be a comfort, not a weapon
Discuss politics or religion in any establishment that specializes in dispensing alcohol, and -- proprietors warn -- the discussion is highly likely to result in you waking up on the tavern floor and spitting out teeth, probably your own.
The world must think we're nuts
Full disclosure here: I have not surveyed the views of every one of the nearly 7 billion people on Earth who do not live in the United States. Still I feel on solid ground when I submit that the rest of the world must surely believe that Americans are crazy.
Mistakes easy to take ... if they're not yours
Every newspaper editor I know has the same philosophy about ghastly mistakes.
Celebrate 2013 with the annual 'Sammy Awards'
OK, now I'm good and angry. After eight years of pounding the keys until my fingerprints wear off while producing my coveted Sammy Awards, I discover that something called Security Sales and Integration (SSI) Magazine is attempting to horn in on my good name with its own Sammy Awards.
The feds still aren't coming for your guns
"Tuck this column you wrote away in your scrapbook ... it will one day prove to be a source of great embarrassment for you."
- Saturday, November 16, 2013
50 years can't fade a day to remember
For the record -- and to ease the burden of research for my future biographers -- I was eating a tuna fish sandwich … on white bread … with lettuce and mayo.
- Saturday, October 26, 2013
Getting robbed of my untapped potential
This …. well … could have happened.
- Saturday, October 5, 2013
Here's what I've learned about the next generation
"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. ... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly (disrespectful) and impatient of restraint."
- Saturday, September 14, 2013
I blame the liberals for America's mess
I blame the liberals.
- Saturday, August 24, 2013
Treat A-Rod like a player, not a gladiator
Compared with -- say -- the practices of ancient Rome, the penalties for failure of character or performance on today's athletic fields could be considered rather mild.
- Saturday, August 3, 2013
Americans need a vacation from gridlock
Exhausted from a nonstop regimen of doing nothing, members of Congress -- the best politicians money can buy -- are badly in need of a vacation.
- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Success in politics is just scandalous
After a professional lifetime of chronicling the feats and foibles of politicians, I got to wondering what it might be like to become one.
- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Reflections of a really lousy movie date
All those girls who turned me down when I was single and asked them if they'd like to go to a movie with me don't know how fortunate they were.
- Saturday, June 1, 2013
Justice Dept., IRS abuses worth screaming about
"If this had happened while a Republican was president, the liberal media would be screaming."
- Monday, May 20, 2013
THIS WEEK'S POLL
- Saturday, May 11, 2013
Using time off in the worst way possible
"You don't mean it," I pleaded. "You simply can't mean it!"
- Saturday, April 20, 2013
Terror lives on, and there's no end in sight
The horrific scenes out of Boston on Monday will be hard, if not impossible, to forget, unless, of course, it happens again ... and again ... and again.
- Saturday, March 30, 2013
Remembering the glory of their times
So, last Sunday, instead of writing The Great American Novel like I ought to be, I'm idly looking in my usual dumb fashion at a television screen.
- Saturday, March 9, 2013
Column on guns led to a barrage of (mostly) jeers
You know, I'm beginning to suspect that perhaps there was not universal agreement regarding what I authored in this space three weeks ago.
- Saturday, February 16, 2013
No one is coming to take your guns
I have some disappointing news for some of the more-virulent foes of sane gun-control legislation.
- Religion should be a comfort, not a weapon