‘Shits’ happens in downsized newsrooms

“We’re all horribly embarrassed” by this typo in Saturday’s Register Citizen, says Emily Olson, managing editor of the Torrington, CT-based newspaper.

“It’s something that happens when we don’t have enough people working here and we’re in a hurry and slammed by nine publications coming out of here at one time. It just slipped through, and ultimately it was my fault because I’m the last one to check the pages.”

On Friday night, a staff of five at the Journal Register-owned paper sent out 127 pages for three JRC properties.

“On Friday, it’s a hurry-up-and-get-it-done mentality because we have deadlines on top of each other,” says Olson.

“The sports editor came in [after the typo was spotted] and was certain that he was going to lose his job… [but] it was just one of those horrible comedy of errors that makes us hang our heads. We used to have a system where we had a lot more eyes on pages and that system is gone.”

UPDATE: Journal Register Co. Connecticut Group editor Matt DeRienzo sends this email:

Jim,

Re: your story about the “shits” headline.

I know it was probably too easy for you to resist blaming this on downsized newsrooms, but the fact is that the size of the sports staff in Torrington hasn’t changed in at least the past 10 years. And their process hasn’t changed. This could have happened back then, too.

Emily Olson (a saint who has kept that place running under a huge personal workload and innovated at the same time) who is absolutely right about the crush of pages they’re dealing with on the news side, but this happened on the other side of the room under a process that really has nothing to do with that.

Also, we haven’t downsized copy editors in Torrington, so it should not be characterized that we’ve put people out of work there. We’ve launched new products in the past few years, so it’s absolutely true there is a bigger workload for the copy editors we do have.

There are lots of problems associated with this transition period we’re in, still juggling print production while charging into the digital present, including not enough attention to improving the quality of writing.

But letting “shits” through in a headline is not one of those problems.

Matt DeRienzo
Connecticut Group Editor, Journal Register Company

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