COLUMN: To err is human, but it still hurts
My name is Brandon Roberts, and I have a problem. Well, some people, myself included, see it as a problem at least. The problem is I can’t stop reading.
When I put the “finishing” touches on a page of the News-Journal I read it. Often it’s the fourth, fifth or sixth time I have read the copy on that page and then I read the page again and again.
Why this becomes the problem is, as an editor, I can always find a reason or need to re-word something, add something or omit something, and, admittedly, I too often do.
Sometimes tweaking a sentence or paragraph helps, sometimes it does not affect and sometimes, it hurts. When letters are left off words or periods are omitted because of a last-second change, it drives me crazy, and it’s entirely my fault in every way possible. What makes things worse is my incessant need to read and re-read is a good and bad thing simultaneously. Even after the paper is finished, I think about every single word on every single page until it arrives in our office. Then, when I look at it, it starts all over.
There has been more than several occasions where I have finished the paper, went home, ate dinner, watched Jeopardy!, played with my dogs, mowed grass, etc., and when my night is about to come to an end, I’ll think of something that “needs” changed. I will then drive back to the office, pull up the page on my computer and begin tweaking. Then, since I’m already here, I’ll do it to the other pages. Before I know it, I’ve reread the entire paper, multiple times.
As I said, that type of behavior is both a good and bad thing. We rarely print errors of fact, and that’s not only a good thing but also the most important. My follow-up phone calls, emails and text messages are almost as prevalent as my tweaking – any coach or commissioner can attest to that. But, the bad thing is, Alex Glover becomes Alex Glove and Tar Heel becomes Tar Hell – you see my point?
Just as any editor I have my pet peeves. I despise redundancy, and I feel it is impossible to pre-register for an event or pre-heat an oven, and there are many more, and these are the things that keep me up at night, sometimes literally.
Mistakes are going to happen, and I know that, but that doesn’t make them any easier to accept. I know how to do my job quite well, but what I don’t know is how to stop doing my job.
Thank you for reading the News-Journal.
Brandon Roberts is publisher and editor of the News-Journal. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 828-765-7169.