Years ago, I was a reporter for a local semi-weekly newspaper. We had a staff of five, which consisted of the editor, the sports editor, lifestyles editor, the data entry clerk and me.
When deadline time came, the editor insisted that each person was to proofread another person’s copy for errors of any kind. So, every deadline day, I read someone else’s copy and someone else read mine.
On one deadline day, I was assigned to read the work of the sports editor. Now, I know little to nothing about sports, I know the difference between a football and a basketball, but that just about sums it up.
The editor and sports editor had confidence in my proofreading ability as they left me alone in the newsroom and went to lunch. The other two people had already left.
Things were going well. I kept an eye out for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation. The copy was relatively “clean.”
Then I came to a story about a basketball game between Duke University and another team. I had never heard of Duke University and thought it must have been a shortened version of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
I waited a considerable length of time to ask the sports editor if he was mistaken. I didn’t think it was appropriate to shorten the name of the school and wanted to verify the information.
However, he didn’t return, the copy had to be sent to the print room by 1:00 and time was closing in on me. I did the only thing I could think of. I changed every reference to Duke University to Duquesne University.
It’s a blur now. I don’t remember just when the sports editor discovered the change. It was probably when the paper arrived and he was reading over his pages. I hadn’t told him about the changes I had made beforehand, because I wasn’t aware that I had done anything wrong.
It didn’t take long for me to learn that I had, as I was told about it in no uncertain terms.
I do know now that Duke University and Duquesne University are two distinct schools and the names cannot be interchanged.
That’s not the only time I have made an error in proofreading, as I made one in my own story—the story I wrote just last week.
I intended to write, “If we abuse our bodies, our bodies will abuse us.”
What I typed was, “If we abuse our bodies, our bodies will arouse us.”
It doesn’t make nearly as much sense that way and you would think I would have caught it.
When I saw the faux pas in the newspaper, I tried to blame the computer and auto-correct, but I had to confess it was my own sticky fingers that did the damage.
What would we do without the ability to blame other people and other things when life doesn’t go as we had planned? Shifting the blame doesn’t change the outcome. It is only an effort to avoid accepting responsibility. However we can make amends whenever we can or make corrections.
At least the sports editor could blame someone else for the mistake in his story, but I can only blame myself for mine.
Dorothy is the author of two books—“Miles and Miracles” and “Getting It All Together “. You can purchase a book or make a comment by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.