By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Bladine: Note to self, staff: triple-check names

Every year — without any kudos received, or deserved — we publish thousands of correctly spelled names in the newspaper. But if your name gets misspelled, you likely consider us careless verging on incompetent.

We haven’t learned to eliminate human error from the world of journalism. Sometimes we get misspellings from outside sources; sometimes an accidental “typo” slips by unnoticed; and sometimes we just think we know and don’t take time for a double-check.

My late father was a great source for name spelling. When he attended the University of Oregon School of Journalism, an “A” paper became a “B” with one misspelled name, and two triggered an “F.” That practice continues at some J-schools, but try as we may, in today’s world of odd name spellings and tight deadlines, we don’t always live up to that standard.

This week, proofreader Jennifer Bladine roamed the office saying she found both “Forest” and “Forrest” in archived stories about the late Mr. Garrigus. We both thought there were two r’s in Forrest, but unsatisfied with our memories, Jennifer returned to the computer and found the image of a 2008 gravestone engraved with “Forest Garrigus.”

That correct spelling appeared on Tuesday’s “Vintage N-R” page of old photos. Unfortunately, the same photo cutline listed “Stevie Gunness” among the young children who were bobbing for apples during a Halloween party at the Garrigus house.

Wednesday, the real (now much older) “Stuart Gunness” called to suggest good-naturedly the possibility of legal action for misspelling his name, and reminding him of long-forgotten childhood trauma from head-dunking to the screams of your friends. Would that all readers could be so charitable toward us under those circumstances.

It’s said that people who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. On our popular Vintage N-R page, we seek out history and still get bitten when that history includes a misspelled name from 65 years ago. Just to drive home that point, an October Vintage N-R photo cutline correctly replicated the 1956 identification of “Mob Halstead” — he, of course, being then-PE teacher and coach Bob Halstead.

Newspaper transgressions with names can be even more distressing. Last week, as a rare example, a reporter handling an on-deadline press release mentally misread the name of a female “Charlie” as “Charles,” and missed the single reference to “her.” The result was a prominent story that wrongfully described a male Charles — we’ll be making amends to Charlie Hays for a long time.

Meanwhile, we won’t ever become perfect; but we will keep trying.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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