I mentioned getting flashbacks in the post below, so here’s my recounting of the worst correction I ever caused.
It was a Friday on the Tampa Tribune’s County Desk, where we put out six zoned sections a day. Normally a layout person would do one section but if we were shorthanded somebody’d have to do two. This was one of those days, and the sections awarded to me were the first two deadlines of the day, meaning if I blew my deadlines, a daisy chain of blown deadlines could happen through the next dozen zones (after us, a whole bunch of regional State sections went to press). So, there was immense pressure to make deadline on the early sections.
There were 95 thousand complications having to do with shared color positions (this was before the Trib had pagination), 75 percent of the stories coming in late (final copy deadline was 4 p.m. and the first section — mine — was off the floor at 6), and the fact that the second of these sections would be delivered popping fresh to the executive editor’s door and he read every damn word.
So, anyway, I get my sections laid out at light speed and head to the backshop, where they’re pasting up both of my sections. Most of my energy goes into getting the first section cleared so I don’t keep a particularly close eye on the work of the rookie compositor pasting up the front page of the second section.
The first section clears about 15 minutes before the deadline on the second. I’m doing a hurried check of the jumps … so hurried that I fail to notice that our rookie compositor has mixed up the sticks of type from two stories.
Next morning the boss calls, having no doubt been wakened by a call from the Executive Editor, who wanted to know what the deal was with these two stories at the bottom of the front page of his local news section. I take a look at the section and realize what has happened. Bottom line: we had to re-run both stories.
In retrospect this seems hardly like the end of the world, but back then it felt like I had betrayed the Gods of Journalism and deserved to be smote with a rusty pica pole. Later I learned it happens to everybody, like the guy who’d been an editor for 30 years and still found a way to forget to include the jump from his centerpiece. (Got a real loud call from the boss over that one).
If you have similar horror stories, pass ’em along and I”ll post here.