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In the woodshed

By Dan Pool, Editor

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Our February 21st edition was a good one. We had stories about animal carcass dumping, a detective who spends his weekends with a metal detector searching for treasures, a horrible story about three fires and an update on the work at the Hwy. 515/Antioch Church Road intersection.

As far as I know there were no mistakes in any of those stories. And no one brought any problem to my attention with 24 out of the 26 pages that week. That meant we got a whole lot of words correct.

Unfortunately, there were two errors in that issue of the Progress. The first was the list of obituary names on the front page. There, we made a typo, changing the last name Duckett to Puckett. The obituary itself was correct, but the list of obit names on the front page had the mistake.

The second mistake was leaving out a service ad from the service section. A CNA didn’t get the message that she was available to the public because of our oversight.

To the average reader these mistakes may seem minor. They may not have noticed the wrong name on the index and obviously no one but the person who placed the ad knew there should have been one more service listed.

But we know these errors matter. The items are important to the people who see their family member’s name spelled incorrectly right after their death and if you are counting on us to make the public aware of your service, then it matters if it gets left out.

We spoke with people connected to both those mistakes and apologized. One thing about working in print, you can’t hide mistakes. When our digital pages hit the press in Rome, Ga., and then become 6,300 copies of the Progress we live with what we sent. I will point out that newspapers are the only businesses that publicly announce any mistake they made in the previous week. 

Getting things straight is a responsibility we don’t take lightly.

With both the missing ad and the typo in the name, the people who brought it to our attention were polite in doing so. But it was clear they were disappointed and they should have been.

We hate making mistakes and thankfully don’t make many. If you look at the number of words in each issue of the Progress that we get correct versus those where we make errors, our success rate is very high. I would add that in the history of the Progress, we have never made a mistake so grievous that it required us to retract an entire story. There have been corrections over the years, but not once have we reported something and then had to go back and say the entire event never happened or was drastically different.

It’s not just the big stories where we strive for accuracy. We know that everything in the paper is important to somebody. You mess up the mayor’s name and it’s embarrassing. But you get names mixed up in a birth announcement and that’s guaranteed to bring fury. You leave out a yard sale listing after a poor spouse spent his week hauling boxes up from the basement, you are in for a not-so-nice discussion of media accuracy.

We recognize that it’s a good thing people get heated up over mistakes in the Progress. It shows they are reading and reading closely and they care intensely about what is printed.

We appreciate our readers and advertisers and work hard to put out a quality newspaper every week with interesting stories, accurate news and no mistakes. When you see a mistake, call us on it. If we’re wrong, it’s right there in print and if it’s important to a member of the community to see it corrected, you better believe it is important to us.