Tags: Staff Editorial
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July 31, 2012 | 02:19 PMI owe George Hennerley an "e" and Speedo Condos an "s."
In a story a few months ago I dropped the final "e" from the name of the head of the chamber of commerce. A month after that I left off the "s"' from Condos.
Two lost letters among the thousands we print every week.
But they matter.
You hate them. We hate them, too.
We pride ourselves on the fact that we don't make many factual errors.
The errors we sometimes make are the truly irritating kind — typos, stories that don't continue on the right page, grammatical snafus.
Now that we're fully staffed, having just hired a reporter to cover Walworth and Fontana, my personal goal is to stop these aggravating errors. Since most of them are mine, I know where to start.
Contrary to what it may sometimes seem, we're not illiterate. And, yes, we proofread — most pages are read two or three times.
We generally adhere to the AP Stylebook and have spirited arguments on the nuances of the language.
But on a given week we write or rewrite around 2,000 column inches of copy. At about 33 words per inch that amounts to 66,000 words — enough for a novel.
So mistakes are going to happen.
But what are we doing to keep them to a minimum?
Many of my mistakes are caused by changing things after the page has already been proofed. I've never written a story I didn't want to tweak and I ought to learn by now that rewriting a story at the 11th hour is a dangerous game.
Some errors happen when we lay out the pages. While stories are written all week, for years our pages were put together over a day and a half. Often those layout sessions lasted late into the night when our brains got a little fuzzy. We can't start laying out pages until the ads are accounted for, but now we're getting early versions of those pages on Friday. That buys us more time we can use to be more exacting.
Probably our best proofreader on our editorial staff is Sports Editor Mike Ramczyk. So we're making sure he does a final read on the front page and as many other pages as fit into his schedule.
By having a full staff and being more conscientious myself we can get closer to the perfection we all seek.
That's a lofty goal. A great paper is about writing good stories, taking good pictures, bringing people what they want to read and probably a little bit of what they don't want to read.
It's also the little things.
Halverson is editor and general manager of the Lake Geneva Regional News.