The most calls generated to the newsroom last week were about a story published Friday that featured a local man who is a Pearl Harbor survivor.
We used the term “soldier” when referring to a surviving sailor (G.W. Mayo of Tacoma) who was aboard the USS Nevada when it was attacked by the Japanese navy on Dec. 7, 1941.
Ten readers called to complain. Said one: “Some errors are understandable, but some are unforgivable.”
Jim Kresse, who supervises our copy desk where the final edits and design of the paper is done, prides himself on catching mistakes in military stories, partly because we’re a military town. This time, everyone missed the error.
The error was made by a copy editor who wrote “soldier” into both an overline and the photo caption. Kresse read over the copy and missed it. Four editors looked at page proofs and missed it. The page designer missed it.
Jim noted that the handful of editors on the desk worked more than 100 stories Thursday night, including several stories on the floods and a late school board story. There’s no excuse for such an error, he said, but the big load might be part of the reason the error wasn’t noticed.
Not to trivialize our error, but it reminds me of the kind I make when I call one of my sons by the other’s name, as I did Saturday morning on the phone. It’s never right, but it’s human to make such errors.
We apologize to any who were offended.
NEW JOBS FOR NEW TECHNOLOGY
In the past few months we’ve added a couple of people to the newsroom in jobs that never existed before.
One is Scott Fontaine, whom we describe as a mobile journalist, or mo-jo as we call it. The other is Joe Barrentine, whose job is visual media producer, which might make him a vi-me-pro. Or not.
“Scott’s job is to stay out of the newsroom, to rove around, looking for good stories that don’t ordinarily make their way to the TNT, talking to people, following tips,” said his supervisor, John Henrikson. “He writes first on his blog, called Word on the Street, and turns much of that reporting into stories for the print edition.”
Scott works mostly from his car. Here’s his tool kit: a digital voice recorder, a 10-megapixel digital camera with video functions, and a laptop with a Verizon aircard.
“This week’s flooding showed the true potential of my job,” said Scott.
On Monday he was all over East Pierce County, covering the flooding and filing multiple stories immediately to the Web site, many of which then appeared in the next day’s newspaper.
One example: “I was in Puyallup when a co-worker called and told me of a mobile home park in Sumner that was evacuating. I was able to drive to the park in a matter of minutes, talk to some folks who were still around and post an update less than an hour after my colleague called me.”
On Tuesday, Scott and photographer Dean J. Koepfler returned to Sumner, then drove through Olympia to Centralia. They gave readers continuous real-time stories and photos throughout the day.
“I wrote and sent one update over breakfast in a truck-stop diner. I sent another from the passenger seat of Dean’s car. A third I sent while sitting in the back of a heavy-duty National Guard truck,” said Scott.
“That’s a technological innovation that wouldn’t have been available a few years ago.”
Joe, the visual media producer, has a background in still photography but has experience with video and digital audio production.
Here’s how he puts it: “Part of my job will be to help explore new ways of telling compelling stories with an ever-growing set of tools. Along the way I hope to be a force multiplier in our newsroom.” He’ll do that by teaching other journalists throughout the newsroom how to use new tools to report stories in new ways.
Here’s how Joe’s supervisor, photo and multimedia editor Jeremy Harrison, sees the job: “The goal is to give readers more layers of information through still and video images and audio online, an immersing experience, access to situations and events that cannot be conveyed in print. It’s not television news video, it’s the quality reporting and visual storytelling readers enjoy in print, presented in new ways.”
To see their work online, go to Scott’s blog – blogs.thenewstribune.com/street – or click on any of the offerings under “Multimedia” on the home page.
Dave Zeeck: 253-597-8434