Why Would They Run That?

Last Updated on: 21st February 2014, 07:59 am

So the other morning I’m sitting around reading
The Merc,
and I notice a mistake. No big deal, newspapers make them all the time. But being the decent citizen that I am, I decide it would be a good idea to email them and let them know just in case nobody else has caught it yet. I dash off a quick message telling them what I found and what’s wrong with it, also throwing in a bit about how much I enjoy reading the paper each day. I send it off, figuring that’s the end of it until they print the oops message in a day or so.

Jump ahead to Monday morning. I get an email back from the editor asking me if I could send along my telephone number so that they can varify that I wrote what I wrote so it could be used as a letter to the editor. I’ve written letters to the editor before and this was not supposed to be one of them, but ok, whatever the news man wants, I’ll play along. I send off my number, and sure enough, a few minutes later I get a call. Carin talks to them for me because my voice is shot, but they’re fine with taking her word that I said what I said. Wow, they actually called I say to myself. I can’t believe this. They can’t seriously be considering printing that, can they?

The day is now Tuesday, and I manage to gather enough energy to pay attention to things and decide to take a look at the news. and there, in the editorials section, I see this:

Six political candidates were running in Guelph

Dear Editor – In your Oct. 12 editorial, “Assign negativity to the trash heap,” you start out by saying, “Sandwiched among the multiplicity of campaign signs with sky-high letters proclaiming the names of the various candidates, motorists and pedestrians could have been forgiven for thinking there was a sixth candidate running in Guelph in the just-ended provincial election.”

Unless I’ve got something horribly wrong, there were six candidates running in the Guelph area. We had Liberal, Progressive Conservative, NDP, Green, Communist and Family Coalition candidates running in our area.

Just thought I’d point that out.

Steve Wettlaufer


Yes, they actually put it in. I put correction in the subject line, I didn’t send along the information needed to make it a letter, hell, I didn’t even start off with Dear Editor. I did everything I could think of to help them save face quietly, and they were having none of it. And to make it even stranger, the only parts of what I wrote that they changed in any way were the ones about them doing a good job. Ok, maybe changed isn’t the right word, let’s go with purged. Yeah, that’s more like it, because that’s exactly what happened. Anything complimentary was completely removed, never to be seen or heard by anyone, ever.

I’m sure some of you are reading this and wondering why it is in any way odd or interesting? Well, you’d have to know the Mercury to understand. They always print corrections, but rarely if ever do those corrections come in the form of hey idiot letters. They usually slip quietly into the local news section to be seen once and never again spoken of unless they need to correct the correction, something that has actually happened before. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, this one was different. Granted getting the number of election candidates wrong is a pretty stupid mistake, but why, unless they’re really trying to make somebody feel bad or like an idiot, does it need any more play than any other stupid mistake they’ve ever made? Are they hard up for letters? Is the guy responsible for the letters leaving and in a kind of I don’t give a fuck anymore phase? Is there a new employee shaming policy that says errors reaching a certain stupidity threshold must be corrected by sharp-eyed locals who’s names will no longer be withheld? And if so, is it only a matter of time until they stop withholding the names of the person responsible for writing the given editorial and the editor who let it slip through? I hope somebody knows, because my flu-ridden brain can’t stop wondering about it.

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