No pain, no gain
September 25, 2019
Change is difficult. It can be painful most of the time and, when moving forward, mistakes are going to be made. While this is something that I have been aware of in the past, it has been made very clear to me in the past few weeks.
No newspaper is without its errors. Look hard enough and you will find grammatical mistakes and misplaced punctuation. History is littered with times in which newspapers got something wrong. Take, for example, when the Chicago Daily Tribune ran the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” on the front page of their Nov. 3, 1948 issue.
While I try to keep these things in mind, it’s difficult to keep the voice of my inner critic to a dull roar. When we had two headlines with errors in the Sept. 11 edition—”Funding the fight again cancer” and “Financial inqueries”—I even went so far as to point them out to people. Not as a form of self-flagellation, but as a way to remind myself that mistakes do happen and it’s not the end of the world. To be honest, that has been the biggest challenge.
It has been about a month since I have become editor of the Saratoga Sun and I am trying not to be too hard on myself. It is tempting to toss my desk over, throwing all the sundry onto the floor, when I see that there is a misspelled word or some other error in the paper. As tempting as it may be, I force myself to take a moment and take a few breaths.
I’m certainly not the first editor to send a paper out the door with a few errors, even if they may be some big ones. My mom always used to say something along the lines of “The day I put out a perfect paper, I will walk out that door.” I’ve stolen that line and made some edits. I know tell myself, as well as the staff at times, “The moment we put out a perfect paper, we might as well lock that door and go home.”
So far, people have been understanding.
I have yet to get someone busting in the front door of the office because we didn’t spell a word correctly or typed a word twice in the subhead. I don’t know how other newsrooms work, but while I probably get the final say on what goes out in terms of headlines and what-not, I am thankful that we all take the time to edit each other’s work.
Over the last two months, I’ve been asked how the Saratoga Sun is doing. Are we moving forward? Are we doing okay? That answer can often depend on the day, but overall I think we’re doing okay.
Change has to be difficult because it is required in life and the pain that can be felt is, I hope, a sign of growth. I think back to the growing pains I felt when I was younger or the pain one feels when working out in the gym. The pain was a sign that better things were just around the corner. The same goes for other changes in life. At least I hope it does.
I recently had someone tell me that they weren’t going to point out the headline errors mentioned above because they thought I had enough on my plate. I told them that I welcomed constructive criticism. It’s more than likely that I have seen that error already and have been giving myself a fair amount of grief over it. So, if you’re reading this and you have been seeing errors, let me know. It’s the only way I’m going to grow.
My original intention with this column was to poke fun at myself while also making an “official announcement” about me being the editor, but it seemed to have turned into a little bit of catharsis as well. Over the last month, I’ve been really putting pressure on myself to make sure that I do everything as correctly as possible. That, apparently, hasn’t worked too well.
So, it’s entirely possible that I’m using this column to give myself permission to relax a little. Not too little, but at least take enough pressure off of myself that I can actually think about how to grow instead of focusing on the pain of growth.