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Dealing with mistakes a copy editor might catch...and covering JVs

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Brain of J, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. Brain of J

    Brain of J Member

    So I work at a bi-weekly, 9,00 circ. paper.
    I am the sole writer, copy editor, photographer, designer for the sports section.
    As such, I have a lot of things on my plate, and I work at being good at all of them, you can't be great at one and neglect the others or your ass gets chewed.

    I do miss things in the copy, though.
    Yesterday I wrote a story about johhny X, who scored 41 points, to join a short list of players from the high schol who have done such feat.
    The story was what I thought solid, but when I got in the office this morning, I was told I "misspelled Joe grad's name." one of the players who is on the 40-points scored list.
    Now, I asked the guy who keeps the records in town, very nice resource, he knows everything about the school basketball team, but either he gave me the wrong spelling or I misspelled it.
    It happens.
    If we had a copy editor, however, you'd think a thing like that would be caught. As would my other mistake someone commented on.
    I included a JV score, but turns out it was the freshman team's score...and the woman also told me "I(she) was going to buy my grandfather a subscription to the paper out of state, but what's the point? Jenny Q's name is never in there for the JV games.."
    I told her I'd try to get some JV scores in but I'm limited in time and space.

    Its all frustrating because the mistakes fall on my shoulders, where at a bigger place a copy editor would catch such mistakes, and the JV scores wouldn't be so important?

    So, what should I do? Do I suggest them hiring a part-time copy editor to come in when we print to read pages?
    Is it worth it covering the JV games? I feel like crap because I thought what I put out was solid yesterday, but with the two mistakes I'm feeling like it wasn't that great.
    Granted, copy editors make mistakes too, but when it's just me and my editor who see the pages, the chance at mistakes getting through is more likely. I've come to learn the more eyes that see copy the better.
  2. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    This will not end well. Be gentle, ol' crusties.
  3. Eagleboy

    Eagleboy Guest

    Is the copy editor going to catch those mistakes should you hire him? I mean, if your basketball guru gives you the name spelled wrong, and it's in the paper spelled wrong, then it's not something that the copy editor is going to know unless he is a guru himself.

    Same thing with the JV scores. If you are given the score and you have it written down as the JV score and it runs as the JV score, but ends up being the freshman score, how is the copy editor going to know?

    Yes, they're mistakes, but they happen. Just take pride in knowing that you did the best that you could, given the circumstances, and just move on. Honestly, if I was given the wrong spelling of a name that could be verified by very few people, I wouldn't let it bother me too much. The guy sounds trustworthy and it's a small mistake.
  4. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Probably not, unless the copy editor had lived in that area a long time. The local stuff is harder to catch, that's why the blame belongs almost exclusively to the writer. If someone had misspelled the name of someone on the major league career home run list, then yes, the copy editor would be equally at fault.
  5. dragonfly

    dragonfly Member

    You're in a tough situation there. I always try to re-read my copy twice before I send, but it's nearly impossible to edit your own copy. One tip I heard from someone was to read your copy backwards. It's much easier to catch things when you do that because your eyes don't skip over things.

    Still, I'm not sure you'd catch the misspelling of the name if you started out with incorrect information. I really don't know if a copyeditor would either if the name didn't look funny. i.e. Joness or Jnes. You just have to get the name right the first time. sometimes, a coach or source misspells a name and you take them at their word if there is no other way of fact-checking the name or it looks right (Jones, Smith, etc.) It's happened to all of us. You just have to let it roll off your back and try harder next time.

    As for JV scores, we don't really ever tough those, but if you're in a small market, people tend to like them.
  6. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Do. Not. Cover. JV.

    Scores in a roundup, at most.
  7. Brain of J

    Brain of J Member

    Well, I think also, I'm not FROM here....so if someone who copy edited or even just read the copy who lived here, they'd more then likely know the name. I just moved here in June so I'm going on the info I get.
    I asked the guru guy the spelling on the phone, as well, and he spelled it.
    I was going to call him again on deadline day, but he told me the day before he goes fishing until 3....so I was going on the info.
    And on the JV scores...I had the scorebook from the coach and he let me make copies, so I copied all 3 games, varsity, freshmen and JV and they weren't labeled. In the future I'm going to ask the coach.
  8. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Nope. Can't even say that in some places. My hometown paper, a 16K, has ALWAYS run the JV box for the city school, baseball, football, wrestling and basketball, and the townsfolk would cry bloody murder if that were to end.

    To echo what others have said, when it comes to local mistakes, a copy editor can't be a mind-reader. If you put score X in for the JV score, it's not going to occur to me to question whether that was a ninth-grade score. Not even if I'm a townie, actually. That mistake would make it all the way through at a 200K daily, if the writer made it in the first place.
  9. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Well, shot, the 200K daily ain't gonna be running JV scores, but your point is accurate.

    Same with the name. If you're new there, there are no written records to check and all you can do is count on the "historian," then you're stuck when he makes a mistake. All you can do is run a correction.
  10. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Collected in a box is fine. I was meaning to stress no live coverage.

    Those kids are playing JV for a reason.
  11. writing irish

    writing irish Active Member

    As a former small-town SE, I developed a particular antipathy to the parents who wanted the JV team's season covered like it was a fucking pro team or something. As a one-man show, it wasn't feasible for me to do that. I appeased most of them by running at least one feature per season on each JV team in the area. They got the validation they had been craving, although of course a few weren't satisfied.

    You may even consider making it clear to your readers what you're doing should you decide to run a series of features as an appeasement measure. I covered 5 high schools, so for example with hoops, that was 10 JV squads that each had their little moment in the sun. I announced my intentions in a little bullet-point at the end of one of my columns at the beginning of each season. That way, I had something to point to when Joe Asshole came storming into the office demanding to know why we had an article on the East Felchburg JV Thunderpuds when there's never anything in the paper about the Dullsville JV Dirty Sanchezes.

    Final warning: if you do an advance or gamer on a JV team's game, then people will expect you to write an advance and/or gamer for every JV game for every JV team you cover. It's a dangerous precedent. Do not set it.

    Fuck JV.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    This crap happens at big papers, too. And we feel just as bad as you.

    Unlikely that the purse strings will loosen enough to hire a copy editor to look over your shoulder.

    You have the right attitude. Keep chugging away. Don't feel bad when folks try to lay the guilt trip on you, either. Just do your best.
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