Getting It Wrong

I’ve been working on several stories lately that are so complex there are more opportunities to trip up and get it wrong than it is likely I’ll get it right. Today another possible beat got tossed my way: Healthcare. My response? Cool.

But that wasn’t the getting it wrong trap I half fell in today. No, it was a simple story.

The guy who took a 1,000-foot fall ice climbing this winter died recently, someone told me today, of a blood clot. Michael was his name. I was shocked — I’d written about the accident and the rescue, and I’d had an in-depth interview with him weeks afterward. Just recently, in fact, I’d given his number to another writer who wanted to write up his story for a climbing magazine.

One part of my job sucks — making the hard phone call. I didn’t want to have to call his widow, a young woman with a child, but I knew I had to. I took a breath and dialed.


“Hello.” It was a man’s voice.

“Michael?” I said.

“Yeah?” he replied.

“It’s Erik, from the Conway Daily Sun. I heard you were dead.”

Try to imagine how the conversation went from there. Sometimes it isn’t so bad to get the simple stories wrong. Just try to do it before you go to print.

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