Making mistakes is normal and ‘fessing up should be



I t is said that males make more mistakes than females. That may or may not be true. What is true is that male pride often makes the “stronger” sex less apt to confess to an error in judgment.

Thankfully, I learned at an early age that confession is good for the soul or whatever curative that humble stripping down to the inner self provides.

Males seem more prone to gullibility, although they have no monopoly on it. A bent toward “glory,” heroism, delusions of grandeur and other such hedonistic pursuits tends to apply blinders to men much as one would to a horse.

Whether riding a horse or “guiding” an equine pulling something such as a wagon, blinders are often required as part of the controls to keep the horse from shying in a way that can bring harm to either a rider or a driver. Those city slickers among you reading this offering should consult a “country” friend to understand the distinction made here.

In the newspaper business — particularly the small town majority of that genre — editors and publishers learn in a hurry that EVERYONE who reads your newspaper sees EVERY mistake. You can’t hide. They’ll find you whether it’s in the grocery store, the bank, church or trying to hide in your garden.

Most country newspaper readers are forgiving, particularly after they learn that you’re there because you love small towns as much as they do. They understand that most of the time you’re going to spell their Aunt Drusilla’s name right as you write about her 90th birthday party at the nursing home. After all, it’s the kind of news that you love because it makes that issue a better seller because of the scrapbook value.

And, therein lies the greatest reason for not making a mistake (as in NARY a one) in the “writeup about sweet ol’ Auntie Dru.

But, then you know all about that sort of thing if you’re a small town newspaper reader-subscriber, the life breath of the best part of the newspaper business. You also know that in a small town, since there’s no hiding as heretofore confessed, more often than not, this is why you’re going to see Auntie Dru’s whole “write-up” reprinted next week. Can’t have it in the scrapbook with a MISTAKE. Heavens to Murgatroid.

Years ago, I had a young editor who actually was outstanding and has gone on to a fine career in a related field.

However, he made one colossal mistake that was extremely embarrassing and a bit costly to correct but it turned out to be very funny.

There was a queen’s contest of a sort in which there were a dozen or so contestants. Naturally, we ran pictures of each. In this era of computerization, sometimes there are formats that can be duplicated which will, of course, save time. One such format fit the queen’s contest. On the page, you draw a box the size of the photo, then you type a name line beneath that box for identification. When you’ve created the format once, you can then duplicate (“dupe”) that for as many photos, in this case queen candidates, as you have. The editor duped the initial photo box and name line to match the number of candidates. That’s smart and time saving except he made a giant error — he didn’t change the name line under each photo, thus each candidate had the same name. To compound the error, the name that appeared under each photo was that of my son’s girlfriend, who was a contestant.

My editor’s penance was to man the phones beginning at 6 a.m. the day the paper hit the street and explain to all the distraught mamas that it was his mistake and that we would re-run all the photos in the next issue (which thankfully was still before the pageant). Fortunately, all the girls and their mothers were fairly understanding and some even laughed about it.

And, I’m still writing these weekly meanderings through outstanding newspapers in our Texas small town world.

But, no I don’t want to invest in gold or stocks or even great small town newspapers any more. I’m content to sit at this keyboard and acknowledge that life’s full of mistakes. Acknowledging them and moving forward is the only real curative I know.

WILLIS WEBB is a retired community newspaper publisher of more than 55 years experience. He can be reached by email at

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