When I sent in The Mirror my press release about Gleetalia, the Mirror changed a key sentence, saying that we performed only twice when we, in fact, performed four times.

So, naturally, I wrote a letter to the editor. I wanted more than just an error correction — I wanted the whole school to read it.

Here it is, with the comments they added:

To the Editor:

As the publicity coordinator of the Fairfield University Glee Club, I’ve appreciated the relationship between our two organizations, with The Mirror running our press releases before concerts and (mostly) favorable reviews afterward.

However, a significant error was printed in last week’s issue in the press release about the Glee Club’s concert tour to Italy. The original sentence I submitted read, “The weeklong trip includes two concerts, a Mass, and an impromptu sing in world-famous cathedrals in Rome, Assisi and Florence.” It was changed to, “The weeklong trip includes two concerts: one Mass and, the other, impromptu sing in world-famous cathedrals in Rome, Assisi and Florence.” There were four performances altogether: one Mass in Rome, one concert in Rome, one impromptu sing in Assisi, and one concert in Florence. How is it possible to perform two concerts in three different cities?

I could be writing this letter as simply an error notification, but I believe that it’s important to clarify to the community that we had four performances, not two. Only performing twice implies that the University supported us having a nearly obligation-free week in Italy, only surfacing twice for quickie concerts. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If that were the essence of our tour, do you think we’d be traveling with our parents, Fairfield faculty and staff, and Father von Arx himself? We worked hard to get to Italy, and we worked very hard while we were there. Nothing should suggest otherwise.

Furthermore, the editors at The Mirror need to prioritize their copy editing. Why change something that’s already correct to a false statement? Why didn’t the editor bother to double-check with me before printing an incongruent sentence? Why spend all your time changing a perfect release when the word “Ignatian” is routinely printed as “Ignation” and the word “sophmore” appears in a front page headline?

It’s something to think about.

Sincerely,
Kate ’06
Glee Club Publicity Coordinator

Editor in Chief’s note: The Mirror strives for accuracy in all of it’s reporting. While errors are made, in recent years, the quality of our copy editing has increased dramatically. Contractually, we our obligated to have two editors read everything we run in the newspaper. However, under our current copy editing system, four people traditionally read each story: the copy editor, the section editor, a managing editor, and me.

Additionally, The Mirror recently began conducting accuracy surveys by contacting a random sampling of interviewees to make sure that their quotes, the headline, and the story were accurate. While still in the preliminary stages, results have been largely positive.

Still, when mistakes are made, we encourage our readers to contact us with any corrections or clarifications to stories by emailing themirror@stagweb.fairfield.edu or by contacting me, Tara Lynch, at x 6529. Requests for corrections and clarifications are reviewed by me on a case by case basis, and are granted if and when a mistake is confirmed. Corrections, retractions and clarifications are run as needed below the staff box on page 4.

And, along with that, something was written by the Managing Editor under the headline “Managing Ed. Puts Things in Perspective”:

Alright already! We get the idea.

Kate brought up a lot of great points about some shortcomings of our coverage in the March 2 issue of The Mirror. For the record, ladies and gentlemen, a “sophomore” won the FUSA presidency, and not a “sophmore”, as was reported on the cover of that issue.

Believe me when I say there is nothing more embarrassing for an editor than such a glaring spelling error on a spot as prominent as the front page, above the fold, on one of the biggest stories of the year. I think I can speak for everyone involved in headline composition when I say that we were collectively mortified to learn of the error the following day.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that the newspaper industry has a long and storied legacy when it comes to errors. As is often said, the newspaper is but the first draft of history, not the final copy.

So, as a much needed catharsis for everyone in our fishbowl of an office on the lower level of the BCC, I thought I’d point out a couple of instances where newspapers have gotten it wrong in a much bigger way.

“DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN”

Easily one of the most famous inaccurate statements made in the history of American journalism, this November 3, 1948 headline (the day after election day) from the Chicago Daily Tribune was preserved for generations of critics in a black and white picture. As the newly-minted winner of the election, Harry Truman, started his victory lap around the country on board his campaign train, he held up a copy of this prematurely published issue of the Tribune before a gaggle of photographers. When asked for comment on the photo op, he told reporters “This one’s for the books.”

While Truman’s knack for the ironic is amusing, sometimes an error in reporting or a mistake made under the crunch of a deadline can affect readers in a very negative way.

“Alive! Miners beat odds”

This past January, USA Today was not alone when they reported inaccurately that people trapped in a collapsed mine in West Virginia had somehow miraculously survived. After mine company officials announced that everyone in the mine of had perished, they grimly recanted their earlier statements to the press, citing a “miscommunication” with rescue workers.

In the end, as USA Today and many other papers got it wrong about the miners, it becomes clear that the inalienable deadline the press operates on is both a blessing and a curse. A deadline is a blessing because it ensures regular publication of the news. It’s a curse because organizations sometimes have to publish before all the facts have unfolded (or, in the Mirror’s case, before editors realize that a word in a headline is misspelled).

All we can do to rectify this is make sure we fix the error before the next edition. Check out our corrections this week on page 4.

I’m not going to say anything about these yet — only that this is undeniable proof that the people who are allowing the English language to be destroyed clearly have no qualms about doing so.

Advertisements