I'm not talking about emotionally wrenching or frustrating stories - of which there were plenty, mind you - but the sheer density of bizarre errors that riddled the latest issue like termites through a lonely widow's home. The volume and variety of mistakes make it clear that no one person could possibly be to blame, even if the paper is shortstaffed, which I suspect is true. I had a tough time getting through it, because by the time I got to the end of an article the only thing I could remember was strange mistake that made it unique. Let's take a look at a smattering, in no particular order:
- The page one article Change in Chairs does not continue on page 6 - you'll need to turn to page eight.
- In that same article, it was noted that Lloyd ZBA member John DiLorenzo "formerly submitted a letter asking not to be reappointed." I'm sure it happened before the article, but I think formally was the word that the reporter was looking for. In fact, it's the very word used further down the page when discussing a quote by outgoing ZBA member Joan deVries Kelley.
- The article itself, which was exclusively about appointment by the Lloyd Town Board, is inexplicably topped by a picture of the New Paltz Town Board at its reorganizational meeting.
- Futon Life, about the closing of the Foreign Wide, amused me. Two lines below the where the word "wholesale" is correctly spelled, it's used again - but incorrectly spelled as two words.
- On page seven, in side-by-side articles two different reporters shared the same redundant phrasing. We read about how "members of the Town Planning Board members" discussed changes to the sign ordinance, while two columns away Jonathan Wright, "a member of the planning board member," is quoted on a separate issue.
That's five errors that took me about five minutes to find, in a paper that's only twenty-eight pages long. I know that all newspapers have mistakes, and I certainly make my own fair share, but that's errors on 17.8% of the pages without me looking particularly hard. In fact, I avoided looking over another front-page article entirely because that piece almost sent my wife the English and Journalism teacher into apoplexy, and I figured I'd let her provide her own reaction to that one if she chose. So, what's up with errors?
Now I know three Ulster Publishing employees that are involved with this paper personally, and I like and respect them all. I also have exchanged frequent emails with the editor, who has remained professional, pleasant, and cordial even when my frustration with decisions made over her head certainly put her patience to the test. All of my contacts with New Paltz Times staff members leave me the impression that these are bright, talented people who are more than capable of putting together a fine weekly community paper.
I won't claim to be a fan of Ulster Publishing or its head honcho, who sits in an ivory tower dictating editorial decisions that regularly draw ire if the letters page is any indication, but I'm more than a little worried here. Is he making life so miserable that his skilled staff is losing heart? Will the drudgery of working for someone that cuts obituaries in favor of ads going to sap their wills so deeply that the New Paltz Times will lose readers faster even than other print newspapers? I still like having a community newspaper, even one steering a course I don't agree with. If our little paper gets so bad that it tanks, I doubt it will be easily replaced (unless the publisher of the Chronogram gets a hankering for weekly news, but Christmas is over by a long shot).
I'm probably being melodramatic; the New Paltz Times will exist as long as people buy it, and people in New Paltz would rather have news riddled with problems than no news at all. But I really do hope that working conditions improve at Ulster Publishing.