Sunday, July 20, 2014

Careless errors

This is my third entry in a row regarding the disintegration of the Monterey Herald which has been taking place over the past four or five months. In February and March "Dismantle-it First Media" (as I now call the Herald's parent company) consolidated critical functions with other papers in California. So we no longer have a local editor, that's being done by a guy in Santa Cruz now, and production moved to Chico so the paper is being assembled by people who don't know the territory at all, which means they can't catch mistakes that are obvious to Herald readers.

Ever since these changes were made I've noticed a significant number of careless errors in the Herald of a kind that were rare or nonexistent before the changes. In early June I saw the exact same article with the exact same headline on two facing pages. One had a picture and an extra paragraph at the end, but otherwise they were the same. The next day two other articles were reprinted from the previous day with a note that indicated they were not printed in their entirety the first time around. I've also seen articles that had repeating paragraphs.

On two or three occasions I've seen letters published with titles that meant the exact opposite of what the letter actually said. One of these was written - oh the irony - by the deposed former local editor Royal Calkins! It was reprinted with a corrected title the next day.

Elsewhere in the Letters section some lucky writers have had their letters published twice in the same week. And one day quite recently the editorial page made space for a "Sounding Off" segment (where they reprint comments readers posted online) but left it blank.

When the consolidations took effect earlier this year Herald management assured us that we wouldn't notice any difference, and that the newspaper was committed to providing excellent local news coverage. I'll grant that their local news reporting is still pretty solid, but the editorial page is another story.

Prior to Royal Calkins removal, Herald editorials dealt with local issues almost exclusively. Not anymore. The vast majority are now focused on state and national issues. This is probably due to the fact that until recently two-thirds of the Herald's three-man editorial board lived in the next county. A week ago Monterey resident Phyllis Meurer became the fourth member, so now only half of the board members are out-of-towners. Still not a very good ratio for a supposedly local newspaper.

With all this in mind, I've decided to start a Herald Boo-Boo Watch where I will post the Herald's careless errors that I find. I've already found three from the last three days alone, which I'll share in future installments of Mr. Toy's Mental Notes.

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