The first time it happened to a weekly crossword puzzle, we figured, OK, somehow we managed to delete some clues. We wrote a correction, reran the puzzle and its answers and went on with our lives.
The second time the crossword puzzle was missing some of its “down” clues, I said, to quote my father, “just a ding dong minute.” These things arrive as PDFs, a format that, for better or worse, generally prevents any editing to be done on the receiving end.
I generally try to be diplomatic and understanding in my dealings with others. But messing with the crossword, not once but twice, is enough to summon “Spike,” the name my patient husband calls my alternate personality.
Empowered by Spike’s, um, dissatisfaction, a copy editor contacted the syndicate again, earning an apology and this promise:
“We value our clients and we would hate to lose your business so they are working very hard to make sure this disaster will not happen again.”
Elsewhere in Tuesday’s section you will find another copy of the Saturday puzzle with the corrected clues, and the solution.
And then there are those problems that can’t be blamed on a syndicate’s PDF.
These are the errors caused by editing on deadline, when you are moving to fast to realize the change you just made also introduced a mistake in grammar, punctuation or fact.
For example, we publish many items online before they appear in print, and it is up to us to change the verb tense in those from present to past tense. And in moving clauses around, errant words or commas sometimes don’t make the transition or aren’t deleted before the article moves along in the process.
As I have said before, we try hard not to commit these kinds of errors on the front end, i.e. by the reporters and their assigning editors who give their work the first edit. That care on the front end is especially important these days because the nightside staff, once known as the copy desk, a.k.a. our safety net, is stretched much thinner and has many more responsibilities.
That’s not meant to be an excuse.
It is a reminder to our journalists that it is our responsibility, no matter how rushed, to remember that the little things are as important as the big things.
As painful as they may be to receive, I appreciate your efforts to point out our shortcomings. Thanks for reading, writing, commenting and sharing your views.
Contact Carolyn Callison Murray, editor, at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @TSN_ccmurray.