Saturday, April 2, 2011

The gremlins that haunted newspapers

The Argus Observes
By Don Lynch
From the Feb. 26, 1953 Argus-Observer

The Oregonian does it too. And so does the Idaho Statesman.

The Oregonian had a classic bobble in Monday’s late edition. Next day the Portland newspaper ran the following editorial explaining its error:


“The gremlins that haunt newspaper plants, transposing lines and words sometimes in extremely embarrassing fashion, hit the jackpot when they slipped a cut of a Victorian architectural monstrosity into The Oregonian’s front page layout in Monday’s late editions.

“The caption said the dwelling, in Salem, would be rented by Governor and Mrs. Paul Patterson after the legislative session ends. Actually the picture was that of the governor’s mansion at Sacramento, Cal.

“We are not trying here to correct the confusion caused by the above mentioned gremlins. The news department is doing its best in that line.

“We wish, however, to put in a word for Governor Earl Warren and his family of California. Many Oregonians were horrified to think that the Pattersons would have to live in such a house and we were inclined to agree with them. But the Warrens have resided in it, besides putting up with a lot of other irritations peculiar to California. The Warrens are even a finer family than we had thought. Imagine smiling so pleasantly , as they all do, while having to live like that!”

This incident reminds us here at the Argus-Observer of the time we mixed up the cutlines between a state official and a visiting concert violinist. And since we didn’t know either guy it was weeks before we knew of the mistake.

The lines most apt to become mixed between pictures here are the captions with wedding pictures. When we have two or three pictures of newly wedded couples, it requires constant watching to keep from mixing either the overlines for the lines under the pictures.

The Boise Statesman has its troubles too. In an edition a week ago, the lead from one story carried this headline deck:

Democrat Agriculture Record
Ohioan Sees Election Defeat
If Republicans Don’t Better

Now the top line could be could be removed to the bottom or the bottom line could be moved to the top and the head would make sense. But as sit ran it was confusing.

In an edition of the Evening Statesman last week, the editorial page cartoon ran upside down.

We certainly have our troubles at the Argus-Observer as the readers much know but probably no more than most other newspapers our size. Just last week I was about to reprimand the news editor because the headline differed with the story in numbers of persons singing and attending at the Snake River Valley music clinic.

Later I was glad I didn’t for the Freshmen won a regional basketball tournament in Boise and I wrote a headline calling them Sophmores.

It’s never funny to the editor when these things happen to his own paper.

But my it’s funny when they happen to the Oregonian or the Statesman.

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