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Readers say the darndest things

The PD public editor discusses some of the uncalled for comments readers leave him and other reporters in his column today (as seen on Romenesko).

I will never forget the first time I took one of these calls. I didn’t even know what to say except to thank the caller. They teach you a lot of things in j-school, but dealing with angry callers is not one of them.

It was the summer between sophomore and junior year, which I spent as managing editor of the Stater while taking feature writing to justify my not taking an internship. I was in the newsroom at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. (it was summer and I commuted 20 minutes) polishing my feature writing story before our 8:30 a.m. class. That’s when the call came in… 8 a.m. on a Wednesday.

The entire purpose of the call was to inform me that we had misspelled received in a headline. Yeah. She called just to tell us we misspelled a word. Then she admonished me, “FIFTH graders know how to spell received,” and went on to ask “Don’t you have spell check?” I explained yes, and headlines are among the last steps in the design process before spell check. And she went on, “Well, OBVIOUSLY, someone didn’t do their job.” *dies* What do you say to that? I put on my most professional voice and demeanor and said simply, “Thank for bringing it to my attention. I’ll look into it.”

While embarassing to have a misspelled word let alone a headline, I have to wonder if it was necessary to call first thing in the morning to point it out? I still don’t know why someone would feel the need to call about it in the first place. It’s not like we’re going to run a correction for a misspelled word.

But still, as far as I know, nobody ever called and left ridiculous messages about people’s headshots (a la Kim Crow at the PD). Although, there are a few “I hate thus&so from the Daily Kent Stater” facebook groups aimed at columnists, etc. Mostly, I guess we’re just developing our thick skin, and sometimes it is kind of funny the things that set people off.

… and you better believe we never misspelled received again under my watch.

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