Some of us make mistakes. Mostly, we don’t like to admit them.
I’m willing to do so, because somebody always spots what I did wrong anyway. That’s especially true if you’re silly enough to write a weekly newspaper column, where what you say has the permanence of print. Errors don’t go away easily. It’s not like radio or TV, where you can lie, and tell your critic – “No, I didn’t say that – you must have heard me wrong.”
The likelihood of making mistakes increases proportionally with the number of columns I produce, and I’ve been doing this for more than 12 years. That means I must have made at least several errors.
The trouble is I can only remember a few of them. (Maybe it’s psychological, and I don’t want to remember.)
I try to minimize errors by checking my facts, and reading my columns out loud to my wife, Martha, before I ship it off to The Gazette. She frequently catches inconsistencies or factual mistakes. Then I have the added benefit of a sharp-eyed editor, Scott Steuck, to find boo-boos. At least I know somebody reads my columns.
But one goof slipped through recently when I was writing about 20 places to see in the United States before you croak. I mentioned the Statue of Liberty, which I placed on Ellis Island.
Reader Bob Woehr spotted the mistake immediately and phoned that afternoon to set me straight. He said that he was from New York and knew the statue is not on Ellis Island. “It’s on Bedloe’s Island,” he informed me.