When I was 22, I applied for my very first newspaper job and while doing so committed one of journalism’s great sins. I misspelled a name. Not just any name, but the editor’s.
Peering over my resume during my interview, she pointed out that her first name — Lesa — was spelled with an “e,” not an “i.” Oh, the shame. I knew the foul, and I knew the price. My career had ended before it had even begun. What made it so terrible was that I had made special note of the unique spelling of her name, but the typo made it through to the final copy anyway.
I learned two things from the experience. First, I suck at proofreading. Second, a good one is worth their weight in gold. They aren’t just ninja when it comes to the rules of the road of writing, but they also know when a “Lesa” is really a “Lesa,” when a “Larsen” isn’t a “Larson,” and that its “Gabelein,” not “Gabelien.”
Local knowledge matters as much as grammar kung-fu.
Enter Nancy Waddell. The woman is practically a living encyclopedia of South Whidbey, and for the nearly the past four years has served as the The Record’s shieldmaiden against typos, misspellings, even factual errors. She’s shown up twice a week, every Tuesday and Friday, reading the edition from cover to cover, emptying red pens as she goes. And she did it all for free.
But all things come to an end, and Nancy is bidding us adieu. It goes without saying that The Record would have been a lesser newspaper these past four years without her dedicated stewardship. South Whidbey, the paper and especially myself owe her a debt that can never be repaid.
Thank you, Nancy, for everything.
That said, we’re in the market for a new proofreader. As I mentioned, the pay is crumy. What you get is a sneak peek at tomorrow’s news and a bit of solemn pride that comes from helping record the first draft of history. As a perk, the red pens are free. So is newsroom camaraderie and a few bad dad jokes.
If you don’t know the difference between to, too and two, its and it’s, when to use personal pronouns, and who is who on South Whidbey, you need not apply. But if you’re a lover of correct English, clean copy and lose sleep over typos in the paper, I want to hear from you.
Tell me why you’re interested, why you’re qualified, and then prove it by correctly saying how many typos are in this column, and perhaps you’ll have a future as one of the most valuable members of the Record team.
Justin Burnett can be reached at 360-221-5300 or email@example.com