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Getting it right: How does one go about correcting a correction?
When you've chosen the profession I have, there is one thing you need to understand early on, lest you go crazy: Once the issue hits the presses, there is not a single thing you can do to change the publication. And once something is in print, your mistakes are indelible, there for the world to see.
Years ago, when I first started in publishing, I helped start a news and arts weekly paper in Portland, Maine. About three months into publishing, we experienced a string of unfortunate and embarrassing typos. Headlines such as "Council succumbs to public pressure" took on new meaning when a strategic "l" was dropped; or "City to developer: no dice!" had an unfortunate letter substituted for the "e" in the last word.
We were well aware we had a problem. But, no matter how hard we tried, every couple of issues a new typo would appear such that it seemed we were trying to see how many of George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" we could find a way to sneak into print. Some even believed we were trying to do this to get more people to pick up our fledgling publication and partake in our own version of "Where's Waldo".
Which brings us to the October and November issues of Drug Discovery News, and the latest comedy of errors.
It all started simply enough—a story about the Affymetrix GeneChip-compatible Applications Program. But in the list of companies already a part of the program an odd company name cropped up: "Stragene". We soon heard from the folks at Stratagene about our error and their concern readers might not recognize what the story was supposed to say or even that their company is a participant in the program. Fair points all.
So to make it right, I suggested we do what we editors do. We would print a correction in our next issue acknowledging the error and set the record straight. Simple enough.
Or so it would seem.
For this is where I entered uncharted water as an editor. You see, when I typed up the correction for the November issue I wrote the following gem: "A story on page 21 of the October issue about the Affymetrix GeneChip-compatible program incorrectly spelled the name of software firm Strategene as 'Stragene'. We regret the error."
Randy Willis noticed in pages we get in advance of the publication that I had, once again, misspelled the name Stratagene. And that is in addition to referring to the company as merely a "software firm" which I'm sure came as a complete shock to hundreds of Stratagene employees whose work is as far removed from mere software as I was from reality in this instance.
It's been said that the pen is mightier than the sword, even when wielded by a bumbling editor. I would have offered to fall on my sword, if I weren't worried that my penchant for leaving out letters would instead provide me with a comfortable landing on some nice, soft sod.
Industry stalwart and publisher of this newspaper, Bruce Poorman, bailed me out on this due to his long-standing industry relationships and some very good humor on the part of folks at Stratagene.
I mean, gosh guys, I'm really sorry to have messed up twice. You'll still take my calls when it's time to report news from your company, right? I've even added Stratagene to my spell-check dictionary, so I don't have to go through this again…
Meanwhile, in other business with DDN, I'd like to introduce you to a new feature in our editconnect codes that appear at the end of each bylined story.
If you have yet to use this feature, I highly recommend it, as it is your gateway to more information on these stories found online at www.drugdiscoverynews.com. All you need do is enter the code and you'll go to a page with additional links to related information.
But those of you who have used this already may have noticed that the stories in editconnect are exactly the same as they appear in print. Yet often these same stories had more content than could fit on the printed page and were edited to fit. So starting this month, when you visit the editconnect pages, you'll see the uncut stories as they were originally written by our team of editors.
I especially encourage you to visit the editconnects for our Q&A stories as these have at least one or two answered questions online that couldn't fit into our pages.