My biggest blunders

It’s easy for blogs about editing to be consumed with errors found in print and online. To be sure, we can learn from these mistakes, but we have to be careful not to slip into the “gotcha!” attitude.

In the interest of full disclosure and just because I am in a confessional mood, here are my two biggest blunders as a copy editor. Luckily, neither became blog fodder:

  • As an intern at the News & Record in Greensboro, I misspelled “astronaut” in a headline. I typed in “astronuat,” and it ran that way in 42-point type for all editions.
  • As wire editor in Raleigh, I made Donald Rumsfeld the secretary of state in a summary paragraph (the bold-face lead-ins that come between a headline and story text). It ran on the front page for all editions. This same error happened again recently at that paper, but I am not to blame this time.

In both instances, I felt horrible when I found out about the error. I wanted to give up and go home.

My supervisors, luckily, were forgiving, if a bit unhappy. They knew that they too had made mistakes in their careers. I took my punishment (filling out a correction form and submitting it to the managing editor) and moved on.

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