A note from the publisher: Errors in newspapers are embarrassing—but journalists are human, so they’re inevitable

The call came to the Reno News & Review phone line at 4:52 p.m. on the Sunday of the weekend our June print edition was hitting the streets. It went to voicemail; I listened to the message an hour or two later as I sat on my couch with the hubby. 

“Hi,” the caller said. “I was just checking in on your guys’ crossword for this month. I am wondering if you guys have published the correct hints or … well, you know, the questions and answers just don’t seem to line up.” 

“(Bad word),” I said. 

“What’s up?” the hubby asked. 

“The RN&R just got a call saying there’s something wrong with crossword puzzle. (Bad word)!” I said. 

“Oh crap,” the hubby said. 

I rushed into my home office and opened the PDF of the issue. Sure enough, the numbers on the Jonesin’ Crossword clues didn’t jibe with the numbers on the grid. 

“(Bad word) (extremely bad word)!” I said. 

Several days before, when I was laying out the bulk of the June print edition (graphic designer Dennis Wodzisz handles the covers and the cover stories; I do the rest), I had a brain lapse and put in the June edition’s crossword clues … but left in the grid from the May edition. After 156 print editions of our sister paper and the RN&R under my stewardship, this was a first. 

Two things were really grating about this mistake: First, I generally check to make sure the crossword clues and grid match. But here, for some unknown reason, I didn’t. Second, for once, we were actually ahead of schedule on production of the print edition—and while we were checking to make sure the commas were all correct, we let this whopper of a goof get by. 

To everyone who was befuddled by this mistake, I sincerely apologize. To all of you who called or emailed to politely ask, “WTF?” I thank you. 

Being a newspaper scribe, editor or publisher can be a weird thing. With most jobs, if you make a simple mistake, it’s no big deal; you fix the mistake and/or apologize, and move on. But when you publish a newspaper, and absentmindedly forget to change one crossword puzzle grid, you reproduce that mistake 25,000 times and then put that mistake in 700 locations across hundreds of square miles, for all the world to see. Anyway, you’re looking for the CORRECT grid for last month’s crossword puzzle, head to RenoNR.com, and click on the “About/Advertising” section.  

To err is human, and journalists are humans, so errors in newspapers are inevitable. This whole mess got me thinking about the two most embarrassing little journalism mistakes I’ve been involved with, both of which happened during my time as the editor of a weekly newspaper in Tucson. 

As for the one for which I was directly responsible: I’d written a restaurant review of a Mexican seafood place—and it just so happened this review was published in our Best Of issue, our biggest and most-popular edition of the year. At one point in the review, I was describing the restaurant’s “delicious crab flautas.” Except I didn’t type “crab.” I typed “crap.” Don’t ask me how I accomplished this; the “p” and “b” keys are nowhere near each other. But accomplish it, I did. 

Finally, the most embarrassing error with which I’ve been involved regards something I missed as an editor. An intern had interviewed someone from a local LGBTQ+ organization for our community Q&A feature. After the interview was published, the subject reached out and thanked us for the piece, and was effusive in his praise … but asked if we could make a minor correction, because one, single word had been misquoted. 

The piece, as initially published, included a portion in which he explained how he grew up in the South—specifically, in the “butthole of the Bible Belt.” Of course, he actually said “buckle,” which makes a lot more sense. Somehow, I missed this in my edit. 

When it came time for me to talk to the intern about the mistake, I kept cracking up, unable to stop laughing. When I finally managed to explain what had happened, the intern was utterly mortified.