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Larry Lough

Mistakes? Sigh ... we’ll never be perfect

Last weekend, a short story about an event in Tampico had a headline that said the event would be in Walnut.

In Tuesday’s edition, we referred to “right of ways” when, in fact, “rights of way” is the proper plural form.

On Wednesday, we misspelled “ukulele” in a photo caption.

Page 1 on Thursday had a secondary headline that reported a barn had been moved 2,000 feet along U.S. Route 30. The actual distance was more than a mile.

No excuses. All of those mistakes were our fault. Such things happen when newspapers process the amount of information that they do in such a short time.

We acknowledge factual errors by correcting them promptly.

The misspellings and grammatical gaffes ... well, no readers told us they noticed the “ukelele” error on Page 5.

Because we don’t always catch mistakes – even after the fact – we count on readers to call them to our attention.

We appreciate their help.

WHEN THE EDITOR got to his office one morning last week, a voice mail message was waiting for him.

The caller referred to a Page 1 story about “a report of a car in the river near the boat lunch at Rock River Estates. ...”

Yes, it said “boat lunch” instead of “boat launch.”

“Is the boat eating, or being eaten?” the caller asked with amusement in her voice.

Computer spell-checker is a helpful tool in catching many typographical errors.

But when the erroneous word in question is properly spelled, spell-checker isn’t much help.

Some human errors require actual human intervention.

But humans being who they are, they will make mistakes – of commission and omission.

AFTER GAME 1 OF the Chicago Blackhawks first round NHL playoff game against the St. Louis Blues, the editor received an email from a reader.

“Maybe your poor staff that was up last night watching the game were confused,” his note suggested sardonically.

The game was a triple-overtime thriller. Alas, the ’Hawks lost.

But you would not have known that by the “kicker” headline above the main headline on the front of the Sports section.

It said: Blackhawks 4, Blues 3, 3OT

Because the game had ended at (or after) deadline, we rushed to get the story into the paper.

The story correctly reported the Blues had won; the headline kicker did not.

Haste makes ... mistakes.

THAT HOCKEY FAN apparently expected the editor to refer him to our website.

“Sorry, no, not interested in paying more for an on-line version,” he wrote.

The good news is, readers don’t have to pay for our online edition.

Go to and click away. No charge.

Newspapers everywhere are struggling to come up with just the right business model for their digital products.

Some charge; some don’t.

We didn’t. Then we did. Then we didn’t.

For now, we don’t.

AMERICAN PROFILE magazine, which is distributed with our Friday editions, changed its format last month.

That brought a complaint from a loyal reader: She wanted to know why the “Go, See & Do” feature no longer included events from Illinois.

Well, sometimes it does.

Until last month, American Profile published a Midwest edition, and its listing of events and festivals was called “Happenings.”

That edition provided to us always included a roundup of events – one from each Midwestern state, including Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Increasingly, that feature was the only thing that changed from one regional edition to the next.

Now, American Profile distributes one edition.

An Illinois event was included in the magazine we distributed April 25. On May 2, events from Indiana and Iowa were included. This week, Wisconsin and Missouri.

So, an Illinois event could show up next week.

Sorry, but that’s a change we couldn’t control.

NOT EVERYONE reads the editor’s weekly column. Yeah, hard to believe, right?

We recently received a hand-written letter from one of the non-readers.

“Why in the world did you stop running the comic strip ‘For Better or Worse’?” she asked. “It’s the only good comic strip, and I looked forward to seeing it. Now you’ve stopped it in the weekend paper, too.”

In his column of March 29, the editor explained that King Features, the service that provides the color comics section for our Weekend edition, was dropping For Better or For Worse.

King explained the change was made “... in response to requests from editors to replace For Better or For Worse because of its continued, exclusive use of previously published content.”

In other words, 1) editors didn’t want pay a second time for reruns they had already paid for years before and 2) because the feature was nothing but reruns, the strips were already available in books that fans could buy.

The editor likes the quirky nature of the replacement cartoon, Rhymes with Orange, which is a three-time winner of the National Cartoonist Society’s award for best panel.

Give it a try.