Sunday, December 16, 2007

A chance to vent

OK, I've had my chance to vent about editors. (And I'll do so again)

But now it's your turn. I'm hoping to collect a large number of the most egregious mistakes that happened after reporters turned in a story. In another words, those mistakes that were avoidable, frustrating and editor caused.

I'll even entertain the stupid questions that editors frequently ask reporters. Example: "Was the bus moving when it hit the man?" (An actual editor question)."What time are the Fourth of July Fireworks?" (Yes, another real editor question)

My answer: "When it gets dark."

Feel free to comment anonymously, but it might be a mistake to post from work. As we all know, freedom of the press and speech does not mean you will not be punished for exercising it, especially at a newspaper. So hold your fire until you are home, but then fire away.


DILLIGAF said...

It's a sad fact that bad reporters often become editors. So, it should be no surprise those weaknesses as reporters are multiplied tenfold as editors.
Ever since newspapers became editor-driven and not reporter-driven they have declined.
On the subject of dumb editor questions, I had more than my share.
I was the reporter who was asked: "Was the bus moving?" after writing a story about a traffic death.
I was once asked by an editor: "Is Baby Jane Doe a male or female?" unidentified victim found floating in the Flint River.
He then edited the story to make sure the readers knew that Jane was a female.
One editor took it upon himself to change the first name of someone who was the subject of a story.
This editor, who was a nightmare as a reporter, loved to change the lead sentence of every story he edited.
I kept my copy of the story and showed it to him, asking the editor why he changed it, especially without consulting with me.
His response was that he didn't like my lead that much.
I replied that apparently he didn't care for the man's first name either.

Jim of L-Town said...


Thanks for stopping by. Yes, there are many examples and I'm hoping for more to be posted.
Please come by often and feel free to post.
The arrogance of some editors is truly amazing.

Jim of L-Town said...

Here's another one that I received off line from a long time reporter.
The reporter had just finished an obituary on a prominent local resident.
As he was preparing to leave he told the editor that he sent over the obituary on (name).
"Did he die?", the editor asked.

Robert Koy said...

One of the most memorable experiences with an editor changing things without consulting a reporter occurred when one of our reporters went to a funeral for a biker named Rat.
The story came about becaue of a very colorful paid obit that led our reporter to go to the biker funeral to do a feature on the dearly-departed Mr. Rat.
While there, he talked to a woman who would identify herself only as "Bandit's Old Lady."
Bandit's Old Lady was acompanied by Bandit, of course, and the two spoke as lovingly as a pair of bikers could about their dead brother/friend Rat.
The reporter wrote a very entertaining obit about the odd world of biker funerals.
Unfortunately, one of our clueless editors took it upon herself to change the name of "Bandit's Old Lady" to "Mrs. Bandit" without consulting the reporter.
The next day, the reporter received a phone call from a very angry Bandit, who explained that the real Mrs. Bandit, not to be confused with his Old Lady, was pissed off.
Bandit said his Old Lady was likewise mad as hell.
All threatened him with substantial bodily harm. Bandit threatened to come to the paper and cut off the reporter's testicles.
Several of us reporters made signs on our desks pointing out we were NOT the reporter who Bandit was seeking, with arrows poiting toward the reporter's cubicle.
The reporter's testicles remained intact, we assume.

sshum2003 said...

I am not sure who's error it was but the Flint Journal reported that Wallenberg St. was temporarily closed for the new press plant being build. Additional, that the building would cover the "overflow parking" mural on the side of office building. The plant ended up on the other side of the street and Wallenberg Street still has not been opened.

Jim of L-Town said...


The understanding, as we employees understood it, was that the road was to be closed permanently for use as a parking lot.
If my memory is correct, and that's always iffy at my age, the Flint City Council approved the permanent closing of the street.
Thanks for stopping by....

sshum2003 said...

Well, there was no correct of that front page article that tells me (as I had previously thought) that the higher ups don't read their own paper or are unwill to admit the error in the article.

I work down the road on Wallenberg St. and I inquired if we had received proper notification of the street closure which we appearently did not.

Jim of L-Town said...


Welcome back! If there wasn't proper notification there would certainly be grounds for a legal challenge. For that you will need a lawyer, sorry, but true.
Also in defense of Brenda Mata in addition to producing her columns, behind the scene she has been responsible almost entirely for producing a weekly "People" section, which is extremely time consuming.
Although her name isn't on the People section she had to pull together all the pictures (college graduates, weddings, engagements, military, etc.) and lay out those pages.
Trust me Brenda was very busy.
As for Heller, writing an interesting column is not as easy as it looks. Finding the right phrase, etc. does not always come easy.
Andy also produced some feature items. Under the "new" Flint Journal you are likely to see even more Heller productions.
Keep coming back!