Newspaper editors _ as all who know us would surely attest _ are the most affable and delightful members of the human race.
But each day, we all have one interlude when our angelic faces are _ like Hamlet's _ sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.
This daily ordeal occurs precisely at the moment of our first glance at our own newspaper.
While our readers are eagerly and happily ingesting the news we present, the editor's noble heart aches as if beset with one of those thousand natural shocks that made Hamlet so moody.
That's because we always see things we should have done better. If we're fortunate, they're mere newspaper style offenses unlikely to cause outraged mobs with pitchforks and torches to storm the newspaper office gates.
Then, of course, there are those huge, sickening mistakes that make us wish we had gone into another line of work. Commit enough of them, of course, and we will be in another line of work.
I can't speak for all editors, of course, but I doubt you would find any who would claim to have put out even one perfect newspaper.
I certainly haven't, and that's with being blessed with co-workers whose talent is only surpassed by their dedication.
There's this wonderful anecdote about Gene Roberts, who was regarded by many journalists as the premier editor in the country when he headed up the Philadelphia Inquirer in the 1970s and '80s.
The story, told by James M. Naughton and related in a column a few years ago by his Poynter Institute colleague Bob Andelman, concerned Roberts and a fellow who was about to retire from the Inquirer.
Sometimes, when people retire, they're given a plaque or silver tray with some vague platitudes on it to show them how much they will be missed.
After some thought about what to have engraved on this particular tray, Naughton told Roberts that it would focus on the retiree's contributions that "helped to create an excellent newspaper."
Naughton said he thought no more about it until getting woken up the next morning at 7:30 by a phone call from Roberts, who hadn't gone to bed until 3 a.m.
"I've been thinking about this tribute," Roberts said, "and I just can't say that about the paper."
Under Roberts' leadership, the Inquirer won 17 Pulitzer Prizes in 18 years, and he couldn't bring himself to claim excellence ... on a tray that would just wind up on somebody's mantel or coffee table.
Now, there was an editor.
In 2006, The Daily Star ran 202 corrections. That was 47 more than in 2005. Of course, we made hundreds more mistakes that were never brought to our attention, and we violated rules of grammar and punctuation more times than I like to think about.
Moreover, we made many errors of omission ... but not one of volition. We try our best to get things right, and we succeed far more often than we fail.
That we ran more corrections in 2006 than in the previous year doesn't bother me. Maybe we're doing a better job of policing ourselves and encouraging folks to let us know when we make a mistake.
And truth be told, we'll probably run more corrections this year than last. The Daily Star is no longer just a newspaper. We're an Internet website, an outlet for video news, and a full-fledged communications company.
The exciting opportunity to quickly present breaking news on the Internet comes with the reality of shorter, more-urgent deadlines and less time to fully process stories.
We'll try hard to keep up, but inevitably, there will be errors. We'll own up to every one we find out about, just as we do now.
Here are my two favorite Daily Star corrections from 2006:
Back in May, Sports Editor Dean Russin discovered that a part-time clerk _ now understandably a former part-time clerk _ was embarrassingly careless. To his great credit. Dean wrote this correction above the listings of 17 names:
The following high school athletes' names were misspelled in Tuesday's editions of The Daily Star because of a combination of reporters' errors, editors' errors, incorrect information provided by coaches and carelessness.
Even the national wire services are not immune. Here's a correction we ran in early March:
In obituaries Feb. 25 and Feb. 26 for actor Don Knotts, The Associated Press reported erroneously that "The Andy Griffith Show" character Deputy Barney Fife carried just one bullet, in his shirt pocket, after shooting himself in the foot. The character was accident-prone, but never shot himself.
In 2007, we at The Daily Star will do our very best, and like Barney, try very hard not to shoot ourselves in the foot in the process.
Sam Pollak is editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208.
- Big Chuck D'Imperio
Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old
I asked Cam Morris, head of Eastern Travel/Oneonta Bus Lines, how many years her company has been handling the Safety Patrol trip to Washington, D.C.Continued ...
- My pal Brucie, savior of Sidney's hospital
- Catching a whiff of 'Vermont Vapor'
- Selections from the virtual mailbag
- Recalling days of 'Doughnut King'
- Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old
- Cary Brunswick
We've become our own worst enemies
The past month has been marked by a seeming unprecedented number of man-made tragedies, as distinct from those caused by violent outbursts of the natural world, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis.Continued ...
- Plenty of blame to go around for Bangladesh horror
- Obama is going against his word on Social Security
- Reflecting on a Florida trip
- Those magnificent spies in their flying machines
- We've become our own worst enemies
- Chuck Pinkey
- Guest Column
Records seizure is an insult to free press
Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.Continued ...
- The evangelical view of same-sex marriage
- Manor's fate will be Otsego board's legacy
- A closer look at our economy - Part II
- Use fracking to fill budget gaps
- Records seizure is an insult to free press
- Lisa Miller
A view from above
Fire towers in the Catskill Mountains have always been destination points, built to capture some of the region’s best views. These sentinel stations served an important role for the earliest possible sightings of forest fires in the remote mountain ranges. But the fire towers and those who manned them fulfilled a multitude of other roles as well.Continued ...
- Being a parent is a constant learning process
- Healthy doesn't have to mean expensive
- A family era ends with close of Potter series
- Independent stores make up for loss of Borders
- A view from above
- Mark Simonson
General Clinton Canoe Regatta got a new home in 1972
Ever since 1963, when Charles Hinkley and a group of Tri-Town businessmen came up with the idea for what we know today as the General Clinton Canoe Regatta, people lined the shores of the Susquehanna to watch the canoeists as they made their 70-mile trek from Cooperstown to Bainbridge.Continued ...
- Sunday movies in Oneonta finally shown in 1934
- Politics, fitness and landmarks dominated local news in May 1968
- Local people sought income in many ways in 1933
- Local windstorm in 1983 caused tense moments
- General Clinton Canoe Regatta got a new home in 1972
- Rick Brockway
Kids have sparkle in their eyes
When I was in my teens, old Bill Naatz told me about a stream north of Lake George where a man had panned out enough gold to make his wife a wedding band. It was all rumors, but to his grandson and myself, it sounded like the makings of a great adventure.
- People make the outdoors even better
- Turkey season has ups and downs
- Spring air isn't always the freshest
- Adriondacks keep growing and growing
- Kids have sparkle in their eyes
- Sam Pollak
- William Masters
Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues
As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.
- Republicans feelentitled to allthey can garner An entitlement is a legal benefit available from the government to individuals who are within a defined category of recipients, such as needing insurance for unemployment or health services.
Romney focuses on self; Obama emphasizes unity
Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama for saying a person's success is rooted in his community, and is not all his alone. Romney belittles this with his belief in individual initiative. He is better at the put-down than the push-up.
Romney shows little regard for common man
The Republicans in Congress have voted over and over, 33 times, redundantly and uselessly, to rescind what they call Obamacare.
Scouts' gay ban creates problem where none exists
The Boy Scouts of America's "emphatic reaffirmation" of its vow to exclude any and all homosexuals from its hallowed ranks is ill-considered and pathetic, especially in view of its having reviewed the matter for two years.
- Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues