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I should know better, and now I definitely do

So, I post this as a warning. And as an admonishment on my part. For, I made a seriously huge mistake this week, and I’m glad my boss took it in stride.

I have been working on this package about the state of superitendency in our region. Several of our superintendents are retiring this summer or have announced their intent to retire within the next year. More than two-thirds of our superintendents have 30+ years of experience in education (translation: it won’t be much longer).

As a part of my package, I wanted to see how long each of our local superintendents had been in his or her position. This involves calling out to 26 different school corporations. My everyday coverage usually encompasses three of them, with a bit more emphasis on one other. But for the most part, I don’t stray too far out of this county except to monitor the boards and make sure nothing crazy or important happens.

So, imagine my shock when I call one of the distant corporations Tuesday afternoon and am told by the secretary: “He’s no longer the superintendent. So & So replaced him — in April.”

I almost cried. It was all I could do to stifle my shock and stay composed enough to ask for the spelling of the new guy’s name and what happened (at least it was retirement, not something else crazy).

The problem, as if dropping the ball and completely missing a new superintendent in one of my districts wasn’t big enough, was my boss wasn’t having the best of days. And I was NOT going to break the news that I’d missed that story to him while the odds were stacked against me. I asked another reporter for her advice, and she concurred. Come in early the next day and catch him then.

The next morning, I rolled in about half an hour early. Sat down, turned on my computer, checked my e-mail and glared at the notebook with the superintendent story notes. Ugh. I knew I had to tell him, even though every ounce of me wanted not to know how disappointed he’d be.

I wanted to check and make sure I wasn’t catching him at a bad time, so I went to send the reporter a note via iChat, which is on each of our computers. It read: “Is (he) in a good mood today? Or is now a bad time to tell him about the new superintendent in (that district)?”

Two seconds after I hit send I look up and realize, to my absolute horror, that it said across the top: “Chat with (My Editor).”

I could have cried, and those tears would have been much worse than the ones about a missed story.

I jumped up immediately and dashed across the office to his desk, where he was sitting and as I approached reading my iChat to him.

Ugh. Talk about odds stacked against me. So I had to apologize profusely and truthfully not only for dropping the ball on the story but also for the misdirected im.

Luckily, I guess, though the discourse did involve at least one profanity and a pen being thrown at the desk a little harder than necessary, it softened the blow on the superintendent being named months ago without my notice. And, to be honest, my editor did get over it relatively quickly. Though, because another reporter made a similar mistake a few weeks ago in an im intended for me, I think he probably thinks we talk about him all the time. We really don’t. (I swear!) I was just trying to test the waters to make sure it wasn’t bad timing.

The point of relaying this is to warn you all. I am about as tech-savvy as they come, and it was a stupid mistake. But, as those of you on my facebook or twitter friends list know, “Meranda is never talking about her boss on iChat again — especially if it might accidentally be sent to him, oops.”

You’ve been warned. Though my co-workers all had a great laugh about it, I’ll bet that goes on my review. Eep.

4 Responses to “I should know better, and now I definitely do”

  1. Howard Owens Says:

    You’re not the first reporter to miss a story. And it won’t be the last story you miss.

    Do you job. Do it well. Be a good person to work with and supervise, and so long as you work for good editors, you’ll have very little to worry about.

    There are worse things than missing story.

    If you’re working with and for good people, there is all kinds of forgiveness.

  2. Mindy McAdams Says:

    Great post, Meranda. It’s so personal and so well told — I can easily imagine how tied in knots you must have felt. Howard’s right — you will screw up again, because we all do. It’s normal. And your editor knows that too.

  3. Meranda Says:

    I know you’re both right, that in the long run this story is not a big deal. Fortunately, I was able to work it into my package about superintendents, and it was only further evidence of the trend I was pursuing.

    But the sinking feeling at missing the story isn’t why I felt bad, nope. It was sending my editor an iChat about him. But yeah, luckily, he got over it and hasn’t mentioned it since. But I’m still keeping him out of my iChat conversations from now on. ;)

  4. Dana Says:

    Definitely did the same thing about a month ago, except it was an e-mail.
    The boss had been sitting on a stack of Web items that needed edited all day and sent them my way for a second read near the end of the day. About 15 minutes after he sent them to me, I overhear our Web editor asking the boss where they are. The boss tells her in a shocked tone “You don’t have them yet???? Dana must still have them.”
    I’m in the middle of giving them a final read when the boss calls me in and tells me in an admonishing voice I really need to get those to the Web editor ASAP.
    Annoyed that the boss spent five hours ignoring them and then — instead of apologizing to the Web editor — painted it like it was my fault, I sent an e-mail to the Web editor explaining what was really going on.
    And totally sent it to my boss instead.
    Wow. While my e-mail did redirect the blame to my boss, it did also defended him by explaining that he was swamped that day because of some staffers being out, so it wasn’t too awful, but still.
    Luckily it was Friday and he was aching to get out the door so the aftermath wasn’t too bad and it was never brought up again.
    My review isn’t until January *crosses fingers*