Mistakes happen in newspapers. It’s a fact of life.
But some mistakes are worse than others, and some mistakes get more attention than others. For example, this image of a page from The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead from last weekend has been making the rounds in inboxes and blogs all over North Dakota, and it has even gotten some national attention.
First. the blog Huffington Post picked up on it Monday and put it up for all to see.
Then, news aggregator FARK.com linked to the above image this morning. You can read the comments thread here.
I feel bad for the poor Forum folks responsible for this error. I don’t know the exact reason this prank was never caught, but I can speculate on a few likely contributing factors:
- It happened in the middle of a blizzard that made doing just about anything more difficult. Travel was a pain in the tail and taking pictures outside was very unpleasant. Believe me, getting the cover photos for the Dec. 26 and 28 papers was not easy here in Jamestown. I was risking frostbite and hypothermia, all just to make your newspaper more interesting.
- It happened over a holiday weekend, and nearly every news media organization out there runs a skeleton crew on such weekends because no one wants to be at work when they could be at home with their families, celebrating. There was a lot of work to do and likely fewer people there to do it. There were cracks, and something was bound to get through.
- North Dakotans are polite people, and while "Heywood _________" should have set off some alarm bells, I can see how a desire not to be rude might keep a person from looking for humor in someone’s name.
Anyway, I know that no amount of teasing could match the shame they felt in The Forum’s newsroom after this mistake was discovered (and all the local radio stations were making fun of them for it). I have nothing more to say on the issue, but to point to my "favorite quote" over there on the right side of the page.
Besides, it’s not like I’ve never made a mistake in the newspaper.
Oh, and full disclosure: The Forum is owned by Forum Communications Co., which owns The Jamestown Sun, which employs me. I’m sure Kevin Bacon is involved there somehow.