Friday, April 20, 2007

One of those days

Contact with readers, community leaders and the rest of the general public is a big part of my job. One never knows what the next phone call, e-mail or letter will bring. Most of the interaction is great. However, sometimes it is not so great. Sometimes, it's odd.

Thursday featured a couple of "interesting" customer interactions.

  • The amateur poet. A reader called to inquire if I would publish her poem in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy. The poem, the author said, would give people hope. I explained that the TH doesn't run much poety (we are a daily newspaper, not a literary journal) and that which we do run has to be brief. "How long is it?" I asked. "Oh, it's very long," the reader replied. When I said that the poem didn't sound like something we could accommodate, the reader became increasingly agitated. I was told that I don't care about the victims at Virginia Tech. Click!

  • The crossword puzzle fan. Another reader sent in a letter complaining about a problem with the TH crossword puzzle of Monday, and demanding an apology and correction. Several of us in the newsroom checked out the complaint, and couldn't see any problem with the puzzle or the answers the next morning. The size of the grid didn't even match the number cited by the reader. I phoned him and explained our puzzlement. He, too, became frustrated with me. We couldn't even agree on the number of rows in the puzzle grid! Finally, I asked him to check the page number with the offending puzzle. "Page 50," was the reply. Knowing that we don't follow that sort of paging protocol -- our puzzle ran on 2D -- I told him with confidence that the puzzle was not in the Telegraph Herald. Sure enough, he replied sheepishly, the puzzle was in the Chicago Sun-Times.

We've had our own "issues" with crossword errors in the past. But I'm in no position to deal with another paper's mistakes.

Who knows what today will bring?

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