Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 10, 2013

Neal Ronquist: Fixing flaws, remembering what's important

NEAL RONQUIST
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — The publishing world continually offers unique twists and turns, whether one produces a daily newspaper, a magazine or a church bulletin.

One minute you’re enjoying a nice leisurely Sunday drive with Ms. Daisy and the next you’re careening around turn No. 3 at Daytona with Ricky Bobby at the wheel: he’s blindfolded and you have no helmet and no seat belt.

Couple the change-on-a-dime action with the fervent passion of the artists who practice the craft of journalism and you have a chemistry laboratory capable of producing world-changing material, or jaw-dropping, head-scratching screw-ups.

Of course, all kinds of safety procedures are put in place to avoid the never, not-in-a-million, -trillion, -bazillion years-could-happen scenario from taking place, but then it happens. And it’s only Monday. And it’s not even 8 a.m.

Yep. That happened to us on Sunday night, Dec. 1 for the subsequent Monday’s newspaper. And yep, that’s how my day started. How was your Monday? I hope better.

I certainly appreciate all the concerned readers who called and wrote about the Scoreboard page that we reprinted from that Sunday’s paper. No, when we started production for the Dec. 2 paper we did not intend to reprint the previous Scoreboard page. Yes, we were aware when that Monday’s paper was printed we were reprinting that Sunday’s Scoreboard page.

One of our many dedicated professionals was called early Monday — about 3 a.m. — because our computer system crashed and we had lost the Monday Scoreboard page. The individual was unable to recover the page, but because of the lateness of the hour he made the decision to re-run Sunday’s Scoreboard page to avoid delaying delivery of the paper by hours. The individual made a good decision.

We should have communicated better with our readers and that’s on me.

We heard from you, our readers, about this issue because you are passionate about our product. We truly appreciate your passion.

It’s important also to recognize journalists are deeply passionate about what they do, not because it is their job, or their career, but rather because journalism is a craft, it is an art.

It wasn’t until I married an artist that I truly understood the difference between artists and non-artists.

When someone creates art it is highly personal. The artist leaves something of themselves in the work. So the next time you read the Record-Eagle and you read one of the stories written by one of our professionally trained artists — I mean reporters — do so through the filter you employ when reviewing paintings or drawings, or listening to an orchestra, perhaps then you wouldn’t be so quick to critique or judge.

In case you were wondering, that Monday ended for me on a high note when my youngest reminded me that Santa’s arrival was just weeks away. Now, that’s truly what’s important.

Neal Ronquist is publisher of the Record-Eagle