How a mistake makes it into the business section
Patrick Pexton, the ombudsman for the Washington Post, writes about how the business section of the paper recently had an error.
Pexton writes, “The Natural Resources Defense Council is one of the country’s largest environmental groups with 1.3 million members, an annual budget of $95 million and a staff of some 300 lawyers, scientists and policy experts who bring pro-environment lawsuits around the country.
“Except that The Post, in a Business section story Sunday about the new kinds of energy-saving light bulbs, called it the National Resources Defense Council — twice, in the story and in the factoid pull-out graphic. Ouch.
“This mistake may seem minor in the grand scheme of things. But in the context of this town, it is almost unforgivable. The words are similar enough, sure — natural and national — but if you’ve spent any time in D.C., you know that the NRDC is about natural resources, not national resources. You practically can’t do any story on energy or the environment in this city without encountering NRDC. Its name should be on a basic copy editing test for anyone working at The Post.
“Greg Schneider, national economy and business editor, said the mistake was in the original story from freelancer Paul Glader, a former Wall Street Journal writer now based in Berlin. Glader is a pro, and he made the error. But the mistake also escaped a Post business desk editor, and then a copy editor.
“Copy editors say the Business desk had a lot of late copy Friday night for the Sunday print edition. There is only so much time that editors can take with each story when they are overwhelmed.
“This one was published online Friday with the errors, appeared in Sunday’s print edition, still containing the errors, and was finally corrected online Monday and in print Tuesday.”
Read more here.