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What We Learned This Week

Everyone makes mistakes; not everyone’s are this awesome.

When you produce a large volume of words each day, it’s inevitable that some of them will, on occasion, be wrong.

(I’m certain, for example, that as soon as this publishes, the emails will start to roll in about how I wrote “volume” but what I really should have written was “amount,” and here are 30 paragraphs explaining the difference and driving home the fact that I was wrong and, really, stupid to have written “volume” and should probably find a new career immediately.)

Accuracy is important – I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to spend hours on research, coax sources to go on record, wrestle over edits and headlines and captions only to have a story called into question because you spelled someone’s name wrong. No journalist wants to be the one whose work garners a correction.*

That asterisk brings me to two recent mistakes that made it onto the site that I don’t regret. We talk about them in the office a lot. Sometimes, when I’m walking my dog or taking a shower, I think about them and laugh out loud to myself. The joy these mistakes have brought us is worth the effort they took to fix.

The first happened back in December. Mario Koran had written a story about the new graduation requirements looming for the class of 2016, and how hard they might be for some students to meet. It took me a while, but I came up with a headline I really liked: “The Ominous Cloud Hanging Over the Class of 2016.” After I hit publish, though, that was not the headline that appeared on the site. Or in the URL. Or in the promotional sentence we use to share the story. No, what appeared in all of those places was “The Ominous Butt Hanging Over the Class of 2016.” (At this point, I have to take a typing break to laugh about it again.)

For a few frantic minutes, we thought we’d been hacked by an immature enemy, engaged in a low-stakes game in which they embarrassed us by sneaking “butt” into a headline. Eventually, we discovered the culprit was a joke plug-in Caty Green had downloaded that replaced the word “cloud” with “butt” in her browser as she looked through the internet – she didn’t know it would change editorial content as she worked on the site. I dunno if she’ll ever live it down.

Luckily, though, I recently inserted my own hilarious mistake into our content to take some of the heat off poor Caty.

I’d been searching for a GIF. I don’t remember what word I used for the search, but I was amused when a wholly unrelated GIF of a wrestling tag-team popped up in the search. The GIF is hilarious on its own, but I’ve recently started watching some WWE and recognized the team, so I sent the GIF to my husband, and pasted it into my Gchat status. Take a look and you’ll see why I thought it was so awesome:

Big E

Not long after that, I edited the Morning Report. Part of that process includes checking the links within the document to make sure they’re set up right. Somehow, in the course of doing that, I replaced a legitimate link with this GIF. So people who were trying to learn more about an education story got these glorious specimens instead.

So, there you go. No journalist wants to be the one whose work garners a correction – but since we know everyone will make a mistake eventually, here’s hoping they’re all this awesome.

What VOSD Learned This Week

“Two things don’t come easy to San Diego: figuring out how to build low-income housing, and figuring out how to develop near transit stations.”

That, from Maya Srikrishnan, is the kind of truism that almost makes me want to soften the rules on ending a sentence with, say, five exclamation points. In that piece, she explains how San Diego only managed to get money for two projects under a state program that funds low-income housing projects near transit stations.

San Diego is leaving other state money for housing on the table, too. Even though it has the second-highest homeless veteran population in California, San Diego got just one project awarded through the Veterans Homeless and Housing program – and it was the smallest award among all of those given out by the state.

Elsewhere in the county, San Marcos is running circles around San Diego when it comes to building housing near transit. The Lilac Hills development, meanwhile, is not considered smart growth but it is, maybe, sort of, pitching a way to cut down car trips: Robot butlers who will carry your groceries home for you.

That brings us back to where we started: Building housing in San Diego is hard. But urban designer Howard Blackson pointed out this week that the city could stand to think more about how it builds stuff, too: Bad urban design can make residents feel unsafe.

♦♦♦

San Diego Unified has finally offered details on why Mitzi Lizarraga, the principal of the School of Creative and Performing Arts, was removed. Last week, Superintendent Cindy Marten told us that a situation involving the son of school board president Marne Foster was “part of” the reason Lizaragga was ousted. But in a huge document dump this week, the district makes the case that there were concerns about student discipline and harassment of school employees by Lizarraga.

The document dump raised plenty of questions, too. Like why Foster wanted someone to pose as a fake college official to interrogate a school counselor.

Finally, Mario Koran shed light on another incident involving Foster, one Marten has pointed to as evidence that she doesn’t roll over for Foster’s demands. Foster apparently urged Marten to hire a family friend; Marten refused.

What Else VOSD Learned This Week

• National City has been locked in a struggle with the Port over whether residents should get more coastal access, or a giant car importer should get more room to operate. The proposed solution: Both!

• Assemblywomen Shirley Weber, Lorena Gonzalez and Toni Atkins talk about how they made the leap into public office.

 Realignment has mostly worked so far.

What I’m Reading

• Last week, I went to the Online News Association’s 2015 conference, where journalist Laurie Penny made a point in a keynote address that kind of blew my mind: A woman’s opinion is the short skirt of the internet – if you have one, and you flaunt it, people believe you deserve any harassment or threats you receive in response.

A few days later, Julie Dicaro published this piece in Sports Illustrated proving that nowhere is Penny’s point truer than in the sports world.

 Political journalists don’t compare enough stuff to “The Golden Girls.” (Grantland)

• A city employee in New York has been repeatedly disciplined for answering the phone in a fake robot voice. (Washington Post)

• Anyone who hasn’t been part of a high school or college newspaper might be surprised to learn they’re often subject to an extraordinary amount of censorship and interference from school officials – and that courts have, for the most part, been OK with this. This piece examines the plight of student journalists, a cause near and dear to my heart. #DailyTrojan4Life (The Atlantic)

• No, women can’t just “go somewhere else” if Planned Parenthood closes. (Vox)

 You’re gonna like the way this story reads. (California Sunday)

Line of the Week

“You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. If you go to Taco Bell, that doesn’t make you a taco.” – Justin Bieber, Macarthur Genius class of 2019, in an interview with Complex magazine.

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