Posts filed under ‘Things I do to tick people off’

Oops, pardon my error.

Every one has an opinion when it comes to the content of the newspaper. How can we let so many errors get by us? Don’t we proofread? Why don’t we put corrections on the front page?

Errors are the bane of my existence. People call in and complain when it happens to them. The problem is that we are humans and humans make mistakes. It isn’t going to change until human nature does. It affects us as well.

The post I did just before this one, about my niece, ran in the paper, it came in as a press release in an email. I didn’t even see it until it was printed, the email went to my editor and she just copied it and pasted it into Quark, our publishing software. The problem is that the email had an error; it identified my niece’s husband as Rowann, who is her mother-in-law. The form the public relations guy used to put the information in had her husband, Rodney, listed just above Rowann. When typing the press release he evidently looked at the wrong space.

I got a call the day it ran in the paper. “Hi, this is Leona.” It threw me for a loop. The only Leona I knew was out of the country in Kosovo. I stammered a bit and then I realized it was her. She was using one of those internet phones to call (which, by the way, was very clear. I’ll have to see about getting one.) She told me about the error and if you think it is hard to take when a stranger calls to complain think what it’s like when it’s your niece you’re trying to apologize to.

Well the fact is that newspapers are a business and like all businesses they are in it to make money. That’s not a bad thing, all business people are in it for the money, if not they wouldn’t do it. Not because they are selfish people but you have to make money to continue to stay in business.

In our case we have to pay for the people who create the content of the paper as well as the paper (and ink) itself. Between the newspaper and the shopper (ironically named The Nevada News since there is no news in it) and the printing we do for others we go through a lot of paper. We get a semi load of paper, from Canada, at least once a week. Each roll of paper weighs in at a little more than 1100 pounds, and we get at least 20 or so a week. It ain’t cheap.

It used to be that at least seven pairs of eyes looked at every word printed in the paper. Now, if we’re lucky, there are three. In order to keep costs down and productivity up we make do with fewer people. Part of that is in using more modern methods to produce the paper. Even with computers there were too many inefficiencies. When computers first came in they were used to print out small pages that were cut and pasted onto layouts and a picture was taken. The film was developed and then photo sensitive plates were exposed using the film as a negative. We do a little better now, we print directly to film, but we still have to expose the plates.

There is a newer method but we haven’t switched over to it. We’re a small outfit and the equipment is expensive so we have a way to go before we get to the direct to plate printing. With that you don’t have any intermediate steps and no unnecessary film and the processing that goes with it.

It would be nice to think that would solve the problem but the fact is that costs continue to rise and advertising revenue is flat or on a downward trend. Payroll has to be cut – it’s that simple. So now errors have even better chance of slipping in. We’ll continue to try to minimize them but nobody is perfect.

Advertisements

August 28, 2008 at 9:48 pm Leave a comment

McDonald’s – home of unicorns and rainbows?

I took a picture for work of a building going up. Nothing special, just one of hundreds of pictures I’ve taken over the years at construction sites letting people know what’s going on around town. I never guessed when I snapped the picture it would generate so much controversy on our paper’s Web site. It was just a picture of a new McDonald’s going in where one had been for at least the last 25 or 30 years.

Micky Ds construction

Micky D's construction

Story here

However some people took it on themselves to start commenting on McDonald’s corporate policies and others started calling them names. It escalated to the point where people were telling each other to “Shut the Hell up!” – literally, which is why I used the quotes.

The local McDonald’s is owned locally. The owner has absolutely no control over McDonald’s corporate policy. His business, which he and his family have built up over the years is being threatened by this.

I don’t like the new policy the corporation has put in place, or what I understand the new policy is, but I don’t think it is something that deserves such vehement condemnation and actions as have been advocated.
The term collateral damage refers to what happens in war when military action results in civilian casualties and I think it is appropriate to use it here. The collateral damage could be the loss of a business. A business that isn’t harming anyone or isn’t involved in the actions that have brought the condemnation. Sure, be upset at the McDonald’s corporation but don’t let your actions hurt anyone else.

I happen to think that homosexuals deserve the same respect as anyone else. They deserve the right to have the same service in the same manner as anyone else. I just don’t think they deserve to be classified as a protected class of people. If someone assaults me because I’m a Missourian or because I’m white or because I drive a big car, it is just as much a hate crime as if they assaulted someone because he’s homosexual. Equal treatment under the law. That’s an American tradition and that’s what every American deserves.

If we do something else besides equal treatment we stray from what the founders were trying to accomplish with this nation. It was wrong to treat blacks and other minorities in the shameful way they were treated in the past. It would be just as wrong to go overboard the other direction.

What about those minorities that have successfully integrated into the American culture? Asians come to mind. No one seems to push for any affirmative action programs to get more Asians into college. They are as much a minority as Hispanics or blacks why should they not get equal treatment?

The answer is simple. Everyone deserves the same amount of respect as everyone else and not one iota more. We are all human with human failings and to say that this group or that group deserves special treatment is wrong, whether the treatment is positive or negative.

August 5, 2008 at 11:53 pm 2 comments

History of my blog, part one

Since moving to the new digs yesterday I thought I might need to explain the new name for my blog. Back before I worked for the newspaper I wrote letters to the editor – a lot of letters. The editor at the time suggested that I might like to write a column. I was hesitant, I never wrote anything but letters to the editor and I did that as the spirit moved me, not on a deadline.

I decided to go ahead and my column was titled Through a glass, darkly. I wasn’t paid for the columns so they all still belong to me, if I am ever foolish or egotistical enough to gather them together in a book. After writing the columns for awhile a position opened up as a reporter. I took it and the columns went the way of the dodo and the passenger pigeon. Then the newspaper got serious about their Web site. They requested we all blog so I started one called Eschew Obfuscation.

A commenter started whining about the paper not covering a story the way he liked it and he cross-posted to all the blogs on the newspapers Web site. The webmaster took all the comments off but the guy kept popping up on my blog and posting comments about the paper not covering stories he wanted covered, we did a bad job and we were all in the pay of the city council, yada, yada, yada.

I warned him several times to keep his comments limited to the same subject as the posts but he kept it up. So I started deleting his comments. He didn’t like it so he went to corporate headquarters with a complaint. I was told only the editor or the publisher could delete comments so I stopped blogging on that site.

It’s now been several months and I couldn’t stay away. In my day job I have to be careful to screen my feelings out of the equation. I’m not perfect and sometimes they seep in but I do try. Since this is a blog it is personal and I can let my thoughts and feelings show through.

As for the name I decided to go back to the basics and take up the name of my column for this blog. It references 1 Corinthians 13:12

King James Version:
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

For those who prefer a more up-to-date version (but not nearly as lyrical)

New International Version:
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

For me it’s simple. I can only write about what I know, as much as I know. I can’t know everything so anything I say has to be understood as coming from someone who is doing the best he can as he sees it.

I like what Teddy Roosevelt said about critics – and I count myself among them:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievements; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat nor victory.”

I am on the sidelines, I know that. I do hope the observations I pass on are of some use to those who read them. I am comforted by what John Milton wrote:

On His Blindness
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

August 4, 2008 at 12:56 am Leave a comment


Categories

Legal mumbo jumbo

Fair Use This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.