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 email@example.com or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208.
- Sam Pollak
THIS WEEK'S POLL
Using time off in the worst way possible
"You don't mean it," I pleaded. "You simply can't mean it!"
Terror lives on, and there's no end in sight
The horrific scenes out of Boston on Monday will be hard, if not impossible, to forget, unless, of course, it happens again ... and again ... and again.
Remembering the glory of their times
So, last Sunday, instead of writing The Great American Novel like I ought to be, I'm idly looking in my usual dumb fashion at a television screen.
Column on guns led to a barrage of (mostly) jeers
You know, I'm beginning to suspect that perhaps there was not universal agreement regarding what I authored in this space three weeks ago.
- Saturday, February 16, 2013
No one is coming to take your guns
I have some disappointing news for some of the more-virulent foes of sane gun-control legislation.
- Saturday, January 26, 2013
I'm fit to be tied because I can't find anything that fits
"Did you ever get the feeling," once asked sad-faced comedian George Gobel, "that the world was a tuxedo … and you were a pair of brown shoes?"
- Saturday, January 5, 2013
Seeing errors of our ways is important
It has become an annual custom to devote my first column of the year to informing our readers about how badly we screwed up over the previous 12 months.
- Saturday, December 15, 2012
Celebrate 2012 with the annual 'Sammy Awards'
Before you criticize someone -- goes this oft-quoted advice -- you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, you'll be a mile away from him when you say it … and you'll have his shoes.
- Saturday, November 24, 2012
Gazan children and Israel suffer for Hamas folly
On Nov. 21, 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was on his historic and courageous visit to Israel that led to a peace agreement that still exists.
- Saturday, November 3, 2012
I'm worrying about what's to become of me after Nov. 6
There’s just no getting around it.
- Saturday, October 13, 2012
No Southern comfort from some in GOP
Most politicians make a gaffe now and again, with Vice President Joe Biden providing more than his share, but what I find fascinating are the increasingly frequent, intellect-defying, science-ignoring statements from politicians with one thing in common.
- Saturday, September 22, 2012
Critics prefer leaving media in pieces, not peace
Given the current epidemic of citizens great and small smacking the news media about the head and shoulders repeatedly and with great vigor, it can’t help but hurt the feelings of a sensitive and fragile soul … such as yours truly.
- Saturday, September 1, 2012
What’s in a name? The difference between a hero and a fraud
- Saturday, August 11, 2012
Rumors of papers' death have been greatly exaggerated
On the bulletin board in my office is this cartoon drawn in 2009 by the talented Lisa Benson of the Washington Post Writers Group.
- Saturday, July 21, 2012
I wonder how it would feel to have all that money
- Saturday, June 30, 2012
Why do women stand by such awful men?
Most men _ and you know who you are _ are not to be trusted.
- Saturday, June 9, 2012
For fatalistic job-seekers, I hear al-Qaida is hiring
NEWS ITEM: Abu Yahya al-Libi, second-in-command of al-Qaida's terror network, was killed last month in Pakistan by a CIA Predator drone attack, U.S. intelligence officials confirmed Tuesday.
- Saturday, May 19, 2012
I'm happy with our kids to a certain degree
It was several years ago, and I was in the kitchen, telling my eldest daughter and my then-teenaged son about the person who was taking over as publisher at The Daily Star.
- Saturday, April 28, 2012
I get by with a little help from my 'friends'
They are my precious friends, although I've met only a couple of them. They are always there -- unlike most of my other friends -- whenever I want them ... or need them. I just have to open a book, and there they are.
- THIS WEEK'S POLL