Years ago, I was working as the slot editor in the newspaper's sports department, which meant that I decided what went on each page, I laid out the sports front, and I back-read stories. I was in charge that night; I was ultimately responsible for everything that went into the sports section.
We were nearing midnight, and one of my editors came to me with the sports column. He told me that something was wrong, but he couldn't figure out what it was. I read it and immediately realized the writer had a semi-local football player playing for the wrong team in Super Bowl III. That wasn't the only problem, but it was a great start.
I immediately called the writer, and it was obvious he had been asleep. I told him that something was wrong with his column, and he said to fix it. He wanted to sleep. I said I wanted to sleep, too, but I wanted to fix his column.
I wound up reading the whole thing to him, and we fixed it together, almost line by line. By now, he was wide awake and immensely interested. We got it fixed, and he thanked me. The next time I saw him in person, he thanked me again. Writers have rarely thanked me — they want to be praised, but they figure editing is my job — so I remember it.
This column had already been through two sets of hands before my fellow editor got it. Although he couldn't identify the problem(s), he got it to me. If he hadn't done that, we'd all have been in hot water, especially the writer and me. And since I was ultimately responsible, I would have been raked over the coals.
It took teamwork to get the editing done. And if I hadn't been insistent — yes, pushy — we wouldn't have gotten anywhere.
And, yes, I thanked my fellow editor for saving my butt.
More EDITOR@WORK blog entries
Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)
More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie