Monday, November 06, 2006

"Stop the presses!"

At about 3:30 a.m. yesterday, I came close to achieving one of my lifelong dreams.

It’s a fantasy of most journalists, I reckon.

That dream is to say sincerely and with conviction: "Stop the presses!"

Unfortunately, those exact words never did come out of my mouth. I regret that wholeheartedly.

But I was at the Collegian between the hours of 2:30 and 5 a.m. with another unfortunate soul while we fixed a front-page error and re-sent the page to the press in Lewistown.

It was an experience, to say the least.

By the time my dream message reached the press operators in Lewistown, 5,000 copies of the Collegian had already been printed, I’ve been told.

What the heck was the egregious error, I’m sure you’re wondering.

Our story about Paul Posluszny’s new Penn State tackle record was mistakenly
replaced by the story we ran in Friday’s paper - which previewed the possibility that Posluszny could bypass the former tackle record held by Greg Buttle at Saturday’s game against Wisconsin.

He did. We wrote the correct story, edited the correct story and then placed the wrong story.

It was an innocent mistake, one that can happen easily when deadline pressure peaks around midnight and oodles of story names all start to look the same.

Nonetheless, it was a big boo-boo and one that required decisive action when someone realized the error at about 2:30 a.m.

But please don’t misunderstand.

I was hardly thrilled to be the bearer of bad news for the press operators in Lewistown who were surely backed up as a result of the Collegian’s error.

It was a learning process, however.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since taking this position, it’s that something will always go wrong and that all you can do is fix it and move on.

I think that’s probably true for most professions.

Most mistakes made in other professions, however, aren’t delivered to the dormitories and classrooms of 40,000 of your best friends.

Luckily, last night we were able to deliver one less.