Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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July 31, 2012

I admit it; I did make the mistake in the newspaper headline

Athens — Everyone can stop. It was my fault. The headline error in Tuesday's Athens Review – I did it. I have already been tarred and feathered. Not much more you can do to me.

I would like to say it will never happen again, but that is a guarantee I am not willing to make. Only because I know better.

The editor of the paper is the responsible person for all that appears in the newspaper. It makes no difference whether they wrote it, or not. At the end of the day the editor takes responsibility.

I am not the Editor of the Review,  but the day of the erroneous error I was playing editor. Let me emphasis playing.  If it were left up to me, the Editor would never get a day off. Not so fair, but see what happens when you give days off? You leave me in charge. Maybe someone will think better of leaving the paper to my discretion.

Don't blame the reporter. They don't normally produce headlines.

It does not make any difference that  I did not write the headline, or even type the misused word. I did however place it on the page without proper proofing. And yes, I did spell check. But little good that did. For those who did not catch my defective headline, it said “Thieves still watermelons.” Of course, it should have said “Thieves steal watermelons.”

It is an understatement to say that is not the worst mistake I have made when writing a headline. My all time regrettable headline had to do with the Seven Points Police Department. When I worked for the Cedar Creek Pilot, we had been covering a number of sensitive issues concerning Seven Points. As it turned out, we weren't their favorite paper.

After my headline they really were not pleased with the Pilot. In one of our stories, the Mayor  had fired most of the police department. My headline should have said, “Seven Points Police Dept. has shake up.” What came out in the paper was “Seven Points Police Department has Shack up.”

Not so good.

What made it worse was the Mayor thought I had intentionally made fun of the City of Seven Points.  Really?

I have been in newspapers a long time, I don't play with the printed word. It will come back to haunt you. Like a ghost in the night. I wake up with nightmares about what I put in the paper that day, hoping I don't have a glaring mistake.

The Seven Points headline  was one of those headlines I was afraid might show up on the Jay Leno Show. I would have never lived it down.

When you work for a weekly, such as the Cedar Creek Pilot, that paper stays on the newsstand for an entire week. As luck would have it, the Athens Review changes papers every day.  Thankful for small blessings.

One of the funniest mistakes to run in the Dallas paper I worked for was not done by me, but by a young girl who was not as worldly as myself. She worked in the classified advertising department.

A hospital had called in an ad for an ICU nurse. When it came out in the paper in very large letters, it said  I SEE YOU. Now that was funny! The hospital may not have thought so, but we all thought it was a hoot.

I always say in the newspaper business, be very careful what goes into the paper, because it is the one profession that will get the most criticism. Because everyone sees your work.

For the person who put my error on Facebook, if it gave you a laugh for the day, go for it.  All I can say is, “Don't think people don't read the Athens Review.”

Make an error, and you will find out how many people we really reach. 

Newspapers are not the only printed product that makes mistakes. Recently in a printed insert for a grocery store, they were advertising baking potatoes, it was printed “backing potatoes.”   Let me clarify: This insert did not run in the Review.

Mistakes come and go. But you may stop your anonymous faxes, phone calls and post on Facebook until the next time.

Kathi Nailling is a Staff Writer for the Athens Daily Review.

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