October 13. 2013 8:51PM

Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: 'A pretty fine statewide newspaper'


Former Union Leader editor Charlie Perkins joined me last Monday morning to talk with NHPR host Laura Knoy about 150 years of the Union Leader and the book that Charlie and others have put together to celebrate it.

Charlie wisely suggested that the book not be a history of the paper but rather a look at some of New Hampshire's history as seen through our pages. It was a good idea and it's a great book, copies of which should be delivered within the next several weeks. You can order in advance by going to UnionLeader.com/150years. Or look for the ad that is appearing often in the paper to send in your pre-order.

One guest on Laura's Exchange program was former longtime Keene Sentinel editorial writer Guy McMillan. The editorial pages of our two papers are rarely in agreement, so it was particularly nice to hear Guy allow as how, in the last 20 years or so, the Union Leader has become a "pretty fine statewide newspaper."

I thought of that a few days later when our paper was awarded the New England Newspaper of the Year honor from the New England Newspaper and Press Association.

It is the people who make the paper what it is. That has always been the case and always will be. And in these incredibly challenging times for many in the news media, I am grateful for the talent and heart of the people who work at this news company.

I thought of that, too, because of an error in a headline that morning. It was clearly at odds with the story it summarized. An interested party had asked me, in an email, how such a mistake could happen.

I could sense his frustration. On the one hand, such an error can seem inexplicable when seen at the breakfast table while sipping one's morning coffee. That is one fact about newspapers: our mistakes are there for all to see, in black and white, and some can look pretty dumb.

But the answer is also black and white and as old as newspapers: human error. Talented people, writing and assembling stories on daily deadlines, are going to make mistakes. They were made a hundred years ago and they are still made today. (And I'm not even counting grammar and spelling doozies.)

I sometimes tell readers who catch these errors that we put them in on purpose for their enjoyment. But it's not true. We take our jobs seriously. We want to be accurate and informative and we are working at it every day.

Write to Joe McQuaid at publisher@unionleader.com or via Twitter at @deucecrew.