The Daily Texan regrets the error

Reese Rackets

Editor’s note — A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in the Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line.

The Daily Texan actually never regrets the error, but occasionally copy editors do.

Who remembers that “hide your plants, hide your pipes” headline? That was painful the next morning when I realized the other meaning. Still, the good memories far outweigh the bad ones here in the basement, and there’s far more to be proud of here than there is to look back on with regret.

When I started working here, I thought the AP Stylebook held answers. It’s really a choose-your-own-adventure book in which most queries lead you to the entries for abbreviations, hyphens or (if you’re like most of the copy desk) the sports terminology section. Of course, the first thank you goes to the copy desk staff for as long as I’ve worked here, especially those that hired me.

But what good is getting hired if someone at the top of the food chain is just waiting to fire you? The managing editors, the dads of the newsroom in that done-to-death Daily Texan orientation analogy, make the trains run on time. Claire, thank you for putting up with me through a few particularly regrettable errors and for giving me a chance.

Speaking of managing editors, how about our current one? Veronica Rosalez, ladies and gents; she’s third in your staffbox, and first in your hearts. She and the entire design staff have been a copy editor’s dream to work with, and something tells me the real world probably won’t be as hospitable as the other side of the rim has made it for me here. Simo, Martina, Alexa — so long, and thanks for all the funny weather. Y’all are angels sent to make my job easier. Except for that single-column headline with a subhead. What could I have done to deserve that?

If I’ve learned anything over the past year on the copy desk, aside from how subheads are really a blessing, it’s that you have to have fun doing this job. If you can’t laugh at a dessert/desert typo, a $40 dollars redundancy or even the rare but worthwhile Rio Grande River mistake, you need to take a break. I’m happy to say I still find more joy than frustration in finding and fixing the errors in stories.

If not for working here at the Texan, I might have changed majors yet again. Here I found a passion for journalism that I didn’t feel in the classroom. There’s something altogether different about working in the newsroom with like-minded people. We complain about having to redesign the paper around breaking news, but there’s no feeling like being there when it breaks. And everyone here knows that.

If not for my best friend suggesting offhand one summer that I try out for the Texan, I might never have ended up here. If not for the staff and advisers at the Texan, I might never have stayed here. If not for my parents, I might not have been born.

Well, that’s taking it a bit far, but they’re pretty important.

I still cringe when I think about that pipes headline, but I learned quite a bit from that. One of my journalism professors would always say, “A copy editor’s job is to take chicken shit and make chicken salad.” The Daily Texan has given me a recipe for the latter.