Where's the rest of that story?

Question: In Sunday's Spokesman-Review, there was a story about the BIA agent on the Spokane reservation. When I turned to page 10 to finish reading the story, it was nowhere to be found.

Also, sometimes I'll read the S-R and find the same story (often a wire story) repeated in the same edition of the paper, usually with a different headline. How can these things happen? -- Al Gilson, Spokane

Answer: Mistakes happen, although we do everything we can to avoid them. The failure to include a story continuation (what we call a "jump" certainly is an embarrassing error. The root cause is technical/mechanical, compounded by human error. The position occupied by the BIA story was filled by a different story in the Idaho edition which has earlier deadlines. The front page is then "made over" for the city and Valley editions. In dropping in the new story -- the BIA story -- editors failed to remake the page where the jump would be placed. Our copy desk reports staffers were distracted by a breaking news bulletin out of Iraq on the devastating bombing there. While working on that story, they forgot about the BIA jump. The mistake was caught later in the night by a proof reader, but too late to fix the problem.

We're in the process of installing a new newsroom computer system and the editors involved tell me the system will prevent similar mistakes in the future, although no one is so foolish as to suggest it can't happen again.

As to your second question, there are times when the same or similar wire stories will run in the same paper or on consecutive days. Again, this isn't by design. Many editors work on different sections of the paper. And we produce three different editions every day. In managing the thousands of wire stories that come our way, there are times when editors will duplicate one another without realizing the mistake. Again, we have safeguards to avoid such problems. But newspapering is a human endeavor and try as we might, we will have great trouble achieving perfection every day. -- Steve Smith, editor

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