Monday, February 19, 2007

You've reached the complaint desk...

I was the proud mother of 200 kids yesterday morning.

Granted they’re actually adults and childbirth is something I’m saving for many years from now, but I swear a motherly pride washed over me when I saw the newspaper and the enthusiasm in my fellow students’ faces as they looked over it in the Willard Building yesterday.

One look at the Thon coverage on the front page gave me goosebumps. The hard work of both Thon members to raise $5.2 million for the Four Diamonds Fund and Collegian staff members to show everyone the power of this event was captured in that photo, that headline, those stories.

And then the phone calls started.

Out of 18 stories, 20 photos and numerous other elements, we almost had a perfect record - almost.

Unfortunately, there were a couple minor facts a couple reporters got wrong.

In one case, the wrong greek organizations were reported to have raised the most money. In the other case, there was a name misspelled.

You probably wouldn’t believe the number of irate people calling to complain about our apparent lapse in competence.

One girl who called actually called the Collegian “obnoxious” for citing the wrong frat.

I can play the part of the unaffected, thick-skinned editor in chief fairly effectively, but it’s going too far when someone calls my staff members “obnoxious” for spending weeks planning coverage, sacrificing their weekend by reporting all hours into the night and basically working their butts off to satisfy the average Penn State’s lust for Thon.

It’s really not hard to believe if you imagine interviewing someone in an atmosphere with constant music blaring, hundreds of people surrounding you and possibly a Campbell’s Soup or Rita’s costume hovering you that a reporter could hear an “a” instead of an “e” in someone’s name.

I’m not trying to make excuses, honestly.

We take it seriously when we mess up, and we run corrections when they are warranted. We’ll do that in this case, of course.

But I’m defending my staff members in this case.

Obnoxious? Ha!

I think they’re fantastic.