EDITORIAL | Editor confesses to dirty secret

Everybody has their strengths. Everybody has their weaknesses. Don’t we all wish we had more of one than the other.

No such luck.

Having both is to be human and I’m definitely part of the club. And thanks to my chosen line of work, mine are no surprise to anyone.

That’s the reality of the news business; whether you are an editor, reporter or intern, your daily performance is graded by thousands.

Complaints about news are probably the most common. One will say we were too hard on a source and another that we shirked our duty by not crucifying a public official.

That kind of criticism I can handle. It’s part of the job and, quite frankly, is as indispensable as it is unpleasant. Feedback is a chance to revaluate our coverage and grow as professionals.

But, then there are typos – banes of my existence.

They are like those sharp stickers that get stuck inside your sock. Small, seemingly insignificant and practically invisible until they are biting into your tender instep.

You never know they’re there until it’s too late, just like a typo. A single missed letter and you spend the weekend hanging your head in shame.

In Saturday’s paper, a last minute improvement resulted in the word “hungy” appearing in a headline. We caught it about 30 minutes after going to press. Too late.

Saturday came and went and I was well into Sunday without a single comment when I had the mad thought, “Maybe nobody noticed.” More likely South Whidbey is just blessedly gracious.

Whatever the case, that’s my secret. I’m a terrible proofreader. Perhaps even laughable. Well, in defiance of my dreadful shortcoming, I’ve decided I won’t go down without a fight. I have enlisted a new secret weapon.

Her name is Nancy Waddell, a Good Samaritan who has taken pity on her community newspaper.

Misplaced commas, pesky homonyms and spelling errors beware. Waddell is a grammatical force to be reckoned with, a real-life Jedi of linguistics.

And now she’s on my side. Maybe, just maybe, with her help South Whidbey will never go “hungy” for clean copy again.


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