Wick Communications

Name a really bad mistake

In journalism, Uncategorized on May 6, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Want to make an enemy for life? Want to make sure that a reader never takes you seriously ever again?

Then misspell his name.

I was reminded of that last week, when a woman marched through the Half Moon Bay Review front door and left the annotated newspaper you see in the photo above with our receptionist. (If you click on it, you’ll see a readable version of the thing.) She muttered something under her breath about what she thought of our blankety-blank newspaper before she left.

Ouch. It hurts doubly because she is absolutely right. We wrote a story primarily about a single local guy and we misspelled his name. Why on earth would anyone who knows Tom Monaghan believe anything in the story if they know we can’t even spell his name correctly?

(By the way, I don’t mean to be overly critical of former Review reporter Greg Thomas. He is no longer with us, but only because he went back to grad school. He was and is a terrific reporter who made a mistake we will all make eventually.) …

For my money, misspelling names is among the most egregious of newspaper errors. For one thing, they are easy to check with a phone call or a click of the mouse. But they also hurt more. Misspelling a source’s name conveys not only a lack of attention to craft but also a certain disrespect.

All of which you know. Just thought I’d share some of our own pain.

Clay

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