Wick Communications

A war on errors

In Planning on 28 Aug 2014 at 2:06 pm

designer budget

Last Friday, as I posted my piece in The Kicker on the difficulty of catching your own typos, Arizona readers were poking fun at the Daily Star. On the front page, in 72-point type, the Tucson paper miscalculated the payment due to local schools from the state by a factor of 10. Instead of the $317,000 in the headline, the local school district is really getting $317 million.

As Sierra Vista Herald Managing Editor Eric Petermann noted in a comment on my blog post, there but for the grace of god go I…

Actually the Herald staff is actively working to avoid a mistake like that. The Herald happens to be in the midst of an extraordinary effort to catch more of its typos by using something Wick Production Director Scott Green calls a design budget. He likens it to the story budget on the editorial side.

The heart of it is a white board that notes who is designing a page and who is proofing it. It also has a space to check when each page is complete, and importantly, space for writers and designers to communicate on story placement.

“Sounds simple, but it’s surprising how little reporters and photographers talk to the people doing the actual design of the product,” Eric says in his comment.

True that. …

Scott says the board is in a central location so that at a glance everyone in the newsroom can see where the process stands.

This is a really commendable effort – Eric says it represents “a war on errors” — and I’m not aware of anything quite like it within Wick, are you? It accomplishes several things and the most important may be a combination of accountability and teamwork. While it may be one team member’s initials on that board, everyone is responsible for making sure the page meanders from the words and photos to composing through proofing without a million-dollar mistake.

Good job in Sierra Vista and please, if you are innovating with story budgets or proofing ideas, let me know.


  1. Our page count in Nogales is between 12 and 24 and so it is not such a daunting task. We post the actual dummies on what used to be our cutting tables back in the day and each of the reporters and the publisher proof the pages and initial them. It’s routine now. Simple, but it works.

  2. We initial pages as well, Manuel, though it sounds like you have even more eyes on your pages than we have in Half Moon Bay. I read everything on the screen and then either I or our copy editor reads everything in a printed proof. One side benefit to the way you do it: Everyone reads everything in the paper!

  3. I think part of the problem we see so many mistake on online content in general is because folks aren’t checking the hard copy. It seems to me mistakes jump out more on a printed page.

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