I was feeling hot. The editor position at the paper had been vacant since the start of the semester — and I had shown my face around the newsroom enough to feel confident in getting the position. And I got it. My byline didn’t say “Reporter” anymore. It said “Assistant City Editor.”
I had reported on study abroad programs around campus. I had seen people before me with the same beat, and I wanted to take a new angle. Rather than talk about what students did, or are going to do, on their trips, I reported on what compels students to travel.
When the attack in Brussels happened in March, I knew that fell within my beat. And I was scrambling — calling up several sources I had developed a relationship with, trying to see if we had students in Belgium at the time of the attack. To my knowledge, we notified the student body all had been accounted for before the school did.
The story ran front the next morning. I also wrote a 200-word-brief on a student who had been shot at in a Craigslist deal gone sour. Not only did I have the new byline, but I had two front page stories. I felt really hot.
Several weeks later, I came across an opinion piece someone had written. They referenced the kid who had been shot at. His name wasn’t spelled the same — I had added an “n” to the last name “Rager.”
I spelled his name wrong.
The moment I felt I was doing my best, I made the most fundamental and easily avoidable mistake a reporter can make. I got too hot.
As a helpful reminder, I have a clipping of the story taped to the wall next to my computer with every reference of the misspelled name highlighted. It serves as a reminder that when I truly feel I am doing my best, there is always a name to double check. I may have ink on the page, but that doesn’t mean the day is done. There is always someone working harder.