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Egregious editing errors

I’ve mentioned before in this column about all the fun old journalists have over lunch when they talk about mistakes that have appeared in the newspapers and magazines they work for.

I’ve made a few mistakes myself and was reminded of one terrible error that appeared in the food section last week when I visited Bill’s Mediterranean Delicatessen on Lake Street in Minneapolis for the first time since the pandemic dawned two years ago. Bill’s has grown since then; Bill has passed but his family trucks on, and his son remembers my booboo of years back. I wrote a piece about my new recipe for pesto sauce in which I substituted Greek feta cheese for the Parmesan which normally goes into the basil forward sauce.

The story appeared one Saturday morning and I immediately spotted my egregious error. Somehow, I asked cooks to add four pounds of feta to the basil and olive oil mixture. Four pounds rather than one-quarter pound. I raced over to the Mediterranean market where Bill’s wife had a big smile. She had already changed four pounds to one-quarter in my story pasted outside the glass encased cheese counter, where these days they ouer eight varieties. I blushed a bit as she laughed.

They say that journalists without sin should not cast the first stone. But I can't resist bringing up a few boo-boos committed by my Fourth Estate colleagues over the years, but especially more recently, as I’ve been encountering one error after another made by obviously young editors who should exercise some reason and more caution. Just now I was reading the “Memories” feature in my hometown’s weekly. I was at 1922, 100 years ago, reading about how County Judge Hensel was teaching citizenship classes to our town’s new immigrants. And all of a sudden BANG! with no segue or subhead the following: “The Arcadia (Wi) Viking Booster Club announced that the speaker for the annual banquet will be Carl Eller of the Minnesota Vikings.”

I realize that Eller is getting a bit long in the tooth, but this was really an unforgivable error. And speaking of carelessness, one of my favorite regional magazines was The Country Today, out of Eau Claire, the brainchild 40 years ago of one of my old journalism classmates, Tom Lawin. It was a wonderful weekly with scads of information about farming, past and present. The new owners have remade it into something that its readers must scratch their heads over. First, they fired their longtime editor and found a new urbanite, who twice now has apologized for not knowing much about farming.

Last week, my issue included a promi- nent story they had taken ou the wire about how several New York City restaurants had lost stars in the rating race! I’m certain some dairy farmer in Clark County will lose lots of sleep over this horrific news. The food sec tion also regularly includes recipes from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that is.

For years The Country Today gloried in the progress that was being made in Wisconsin agriculture. Many of those stories are missing, replaced every week by an entire page devoted to pictures of decaying barns, falling down silos and rusty Minneapolis-Moline tractors. I’m certain it saves money: Reporters are more expensive than photographers, but this feature is a veritable graveyard.

DISCLAIMER: Years back, I proudly contributed occasionally to this fine maga zine, but have no hard feelings about not being used. I don’t think I’d like the company I’d keep, including a featured Amish woman, a farm wife from Illinois whose recipes include Jell-O, miniature marshmallows, and trips to Vegas with no mention of buggies, Shoofly Pie or Scrapple. (Maybe I should excuse that omission, since scrapple is also Pennsylvanian?)

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.

BY DAVE WOOD

May 17, 2022