We made a really stupid mistake the other day, and after leaving me aghast, it left me a little nostalgic.
You see, all of us in this line of work have some memories of some really stupid mistake that got into the newspaper, embarrassed us to the core, and, with any luck, made us better and more careful journalists.
Here is my story: In the summer of 1982, I was working for The Wenatchee World as an intern in the Okanogan County bureau. As I recall, I was earning $3.35 an hour, plus The World rented me a studio apartment in the basement of a retired couple’s home near Omak High School. (They were good folks; their only real rule was that I had to be in by the time they went to bed, as I had to go through their house to get to the basement stairs.)
At any rate, one day I got an assignment to cover a fundraiser in Tonasket, a town about 30 miles north. I don’t remember the charity, but I do recall that Miss Tonasket had the most money placed in her jar, so she had to kiss a pig.
Well, I got to the assignment on time, had my camera ready and captured a great photograph of the queen bussing the squealing porker. The only other thing I needed for my little story (we call them “Brites”) was a great quote, and I got that too, so my editor ended up playing the photo and story on the front page. It was a slow news day, even by Wenatchee standards, but when you’re just starting out, getting any story on the front page is a big thrill.