~ Feeling A Little Bedraggled Today ~

Richmond Town Council

Town Council (Photo credit: Burwash Calligrapher)

What do you do when you have been publicly embarrassed? It happened to me last night at a Town Council meeting. I work as a reporter covering municipal politics, and in doing so, I have to attend their regular meetings. I make notes furiously and hopefully accurately.

I like to be accurate in what I report. And since I have covered town council meetings for years I have a lot of knowledge on how things work. I know that when someone asks Council to lower a speed limit, they refer it to the Police Board for a recommendation before making a decision. I know this. Yet, I wrote an article stating that Council had approved the lowering of the speed limit without this additional step.  And (to add insult to injury) I said that the decision was unanimous.

When I wrote up the story, I remember thinking to myself that it was odd that they did not follow the usual procedure and send it to the Police Board first before approving. But, instead of checking to make sure that my notes were correct, I wrote it up, even though I was second guessing myself.

Now, the paper I work for is not a national or even city paper. It is a small town weekly—but none-the-less, I think it is a pretty good paper. We try to cover community events and let the people know what is happening in the municipality. I feel that writing up council news is sort of my way of contributing to the community.

Last night a Councillor pointed out that the paper had made an error in the article about the speed limit. He did not come to me quietly and tell me about the mistake—he announced it in front of Council and the audience of people who were attending because there was something on the Council Agenda that they were interested in.

I would be the first one to admit I do not take criticism well. I learn from it never-the-less. But I thought that the Councillor was particularly ungenerous in his comments. And it stung all the more because I was guilty of making a mistake. A mistake I had not bothered to correct, even though I had questioned it.

I probably deserved a little comeuppance, and the fact that I should have made a phone call to check my facts was undeniable. But why did the Councillor feel he had to embarrass me? I try to portray Council in a fair fashion as a reporter is charged to do. The mistake is not earth shattering. It can be easily remedied. That is not the point. The point is that it felt like someone was trying to make himself look good at the expense of another.

Am I just being a little too sensitive? Yes, I guess I am. But I would never do to another what was done to me last night.

What do you think?

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76 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You are not too sensitive at all! What he did was ignorant, but it seems so often nowadays that people love causing pain and embarassment for others. He could have easily come to you in private – everyone makes mistakes. What a jerk!!

    • Thank you for that – I still do not know why he just didn’t tell me privately.

  2. LouAnn welcome to the human race, making mistakes is part of the gig…too darn bad that the councillor chose to be more a reptile than a human. Never underestimate that inner-vision ;)

    • Thanks – I know I am too sensitive, will have to keep that inner-vision light on– it has been a little dim lately

      • BIG HUG
        xoxox

      • that helps a lot :)

  3. A mistake that is small and easily corrected, such as the one it sounds like you made, should get a gentle and non public nudge to be corrected. The Councillor seems to have taken it a step too far and made a mountain out of a molehill.

    • yes he did do that, and he actually does it quite regularly–just this time I got the brunt of it

  4. Oh, I feel the pain. I understand completely. You take pride in your work, and it is upsetting to make such an error. That Councillor should have spoken to you privately …absolutely. What he did was rude and unnecessary. As a reporter, I’m sure the next time HE does something wrong, you’ll be careful to just let him know privately …. oh, wait! He prefers public acknowledgement of errors. Well, I’m sure you will have the opportunity to oblige him!! :)

    • oh, you are so evil–but contemplation of it is not the same as doing it, is it? see, you cheered me right up–thank you! ;)

  5. I think that was a bit harsh, everyone makes mistakes no need to be so horrible about it!

    • I am getting over it and feeling a little foolish now about making it such a big deal.

      • It’s good to get these things out of your system.

  6. I really hate it when people use a small error to ‘big’ themselves up. I had that happen in my work too but now I’m retired, I’m safe! I send you hugs and reassurances that you are not over-sensitive but were treated boorishly by someone who ought to know better!

    It’ll be tempting to get him back if he /when he makes a mistake but I think you’ll feel better for telling him quietly and showing him how it can be done kindly and with sensitivity!

    All the best to you! :)

    • As a reporter I have to remain as objective as humanly possible–but some people make it that little bit more difficult.

      • :)

  7. Nice words of support that you are getting, Louann. I agree with all of them – it seemed like a big response for a small error.

    • I think I am a bit guilty of making a mountain out of a molehill now that I have had time to think about it — am thinking of deleting it as it is sounding a bit self-serving–and I am coming across as a bit of a baby.

      • I didn’t think so – you were just doing what my office full of women does every morning – bouncing thoughts and ideas off of each other, looking for some validation of opinion and venting a bit. Once that is accomplished, you can carry on as normal.

      • okay, this is me being normal now–thanks for the perspective

  8. You may be being a tad sensitive but I have had this done to me at work before. The error was inconsequential and really, REALLY? it was necessary to point it out in front of everyone? I don’t think so that’s just somebody being a dick.

    • I am tending to agree with you here — you summed it up very well! (lol)

  9. Ugh that is awful my friend, you are definitely not being touchy! There are much more humane ways around a situation like this!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • I so agree – one is not to be so touchy–but alas, that is not to be.

  10. No, you did nothing to deserve what happened. In a way he was being disrespectful. There is never no need for that. Hope you don’t let something like that ruin your confidence.

    • I promise I won’t — you are right – it was disrespectful.thanks

  11. I don’t think you’re being too sensitive at all. That was downright mean of him. He could’ve easily told you about the mistake in private; there was no reason for him to announce it like that. =[

    • I tend to agree with you – but live and learn.

  12. Having been around politicians all my adult life, I know people like this, grandstanding for a few political brownie points….I am sure you’ll remember this come election time!

    • will email you about what I am going to remember! ha ha (that was an evil laugh – I thought it needed some translation)

  13. There are people that relish pointing out others’ mistakes and having an audience while doing so..Obviously he was one of these people. I would have felt exactly as you did because I take it hard when I make mistakes. So you were sensitive but that’s who you are…(and me too)…but don’t keep beating yourself up about it….(even though I know you will….for awhile) lol…..Diane

    • we sound very similar – thanks for comforting me Diane

  14. Lou Ann, did he mention you by the name or just state “the paper” made a mistake? Do you have final say on a piece or does an editor check to make sure that everything’s correct? Regardless, I understand your sensitivity. All writers are sensitive even when a tiny mistake is one she/he made. I do think it would’ve been better for him to draw you aside and mention it instead of announcing it in front of everyone — that was insensitive and served no purpose.

    I wrote an article once where I wrote Southern Africa instead of South Africa which is a big difference and a reader emailed the editor and stated the obvious and wasn’t too kind about it. (but seriously, the editor is supposed to be a second set of eyes!) Writers are human and make mistakes just like everyone else. Sometimes you can look at a piece over and over and you don’t catch all the mistakes. Sometimes you overlook a fact. It happens.

    I would tell you not to dwell on it, but if you’re like me, you will until you don’t anymore.

    Are you being too sensitive? Maybe a bit, but I understand it. I really, really do and would feel very much like you’re feeling. :).

    • Thanks Brigitte – I am kind of my own editor, as I am expected to give a finished and complete product when I write up council news – I am trusted to be accurate.
      It is difficult sometimes to see your mistakes as you see what you want to see and not necessarily what is there.
      I had misgivings about the article and should have followed it up – but it was not an earthshattering mistake–no lives were lost–and so yes, it would have been nice to have been informed in private.
      You, of all people know whereof I speak, as you make you living writing too.

    • he did not need to mention me by name, as I am the muncipal reporter for the paper – everyone knows

  15. I would have taken grave offense, as it could have been pointed out very privately and you would have be duly sorry. I would have felt like you, taken offense, and pointed out that he could have waited (probably privately :) ). You have every right to your feelings and…phew…I am getting considerably angry on your behalf :)

    Anyway, you made a mistake, he clearly has limited social skills, and you should “keep calm and carry on” :) even though I didn’t.

    Adieu, scribbler

    • I shall do as you say–keep calm and carry on — seriously it was not much of a mistake — and can easily be fixed — it need not have happened in a public forum. Thanks for your support — you are very kind.

      • My pleasure!

        Adieu, scribbler

  16. Ouch. His criticism seems unnecessary. We all make mistakes. Big and small. Even national newspapers publish retractions for their mistakes. It happens. I’m on your side. Always.

    • I knew you would be – thank you muchly

  17. He was not nice at all.. No, you are not being too sensitive..had that of been me, I would have been embarrassed and started sweating.. I’m sorry you were embarrassed :-(

    • thank you – I am over it now–but it was so unnecessary

  18. This doesn’t seem like it should have been something brought out in public like that.

    • I agree – thanks Rosy

  19. Writers are naturally harsh on themselves so it’s especially hard when someone else notices a mistake. I think it’s often worse when we don’t quite listen to our second thoughts and it turns out that those second thoughts were correct. Don’t feel too bad, we’re only human after all. I’d definitely not have taken kindly to that public announcement myself.

    • of course, it does make me hyper aware now that if I feel a niggling I should follow through–I think what happened is that the motion was not a complete one and that I was supposed to assume that it was being done to protocol – because I really do take extensive notes–though sometimes someone will talk to me when I am taking notes and I miss what is being said–whatever it was, I will be more careful

  20. It may be someone else pointed it out to the councilor and for public record he wanted to correct it – but this can be done in a very matter-of-fact way and no condescending or fingerpointing at all. It seems he wanted to make you squirm! Mean jerk! But I must tell you about my faux pas: I was a clerk in the District Attorney’s office in Las Vegas Many years ago and kept notes for the deputy DA every day in court; and one day a defendant came before the judge but his two accomplices in crime did not show up so the judge issued bench warrants on the other two defendants. Well, (my excuses: I lost my contact lens so couldn’t see faces and the deputy DA had my deaf ear so if I couldn’t hear what the judge said I couldn’t ask “what did he say”? Anyhow, a few days later the same defendant came in, alone, and it turned out they arrested him because I wrote his name down for a bench warrant and not one of the guys who didn’t show up! Needless to say I was mortified!!! And that was the end of my Justice court cases – I was relegated to traffic court cases. Does that make you feel any better :D

    • -see how easy it is to make a mistake–we are only human, and you certainly had mitigating circumstances
      -you are probably right about setting the record straight, but it could have been done in a much better fashion-thank you for sharing your story, it does help–and it helps to show me that I have made a mountain out of a molehill

  21. Sure sounds like the typical small town politician. Have to wonder about his alternative motive!! I always suspect some hidden guilt somewhere of their own past mistakes. I think I would have trouble keeping my mouth shut and not asking him why he did it. However, probably best to let this just blow over. No winning against ignorance.
    You Matter! Smiles, Nancy

    • I think you are right–I have it out of my system now–and with all the support I have received I feel better about the whole situation–and you matter too, Nancy~

  22. He has issues, and you were an easy target, I hate people like that! You are very cool and so is your blog!

    • you are so nice, and you are so right about “issues”– I guess we all have them– mine being that I am too sensitive

  23. You are not being too sensitive. There was no reason for him to take you to task publicly, he could have pointed out the error quietly and privately. Doing so in front of everyone else was a really obnoxious thing to do, and he obviously did so because he felt it would make him look good. Idiot. I’m sorry, LouAnn. I would have been upset and pissed off too.

    • Thank you, I knew you would say the right thing. Idiot, by the way is one of my favourite words, and applied here, it is perfect!

  24. I definitely don’t think you were being too sensitive! I would have been upset as well, there was really no reason mention it publicly. Ah, people who need to feel important drive me crazy!

    • me too–and you hit the nail on the head–sometimes we pump ourselves up at someone else’s expense–let this be a lesson for me

      • It’s hard not to take such things personally! But yes, sometimes it’s easier to handle if we take a step back and realize that they’re just being a bully! I hope things go smoother for you next meeting :)

      • I am sure they will – I think it took me aback because it was so unusual

      • That makes sense! And good, glad to hear it :)

  25. He sounds like a bully. Every-one makes mistakes, no-one is perfect, and intelligent people learn from them. Don’t give him another thought – his stuff is to be a bully, don’t let him change you, or cause you any more hurt. Let it go, forgive yourself and be kind to yourself, and let him go…

    • thank you valerie–I will take your advice–it makes sense and I should just move on

  26. I feel your pain. It is always challenging to receive criticism, but especially in front of a group. Find comfort in knowing that mistakes occur in journalism all the time. Yours is not the first, nor was it a serious error. Best wishes with forgetting and moving on from here!

    • thank you–I am in the midst of writing a post about happiness to put this trivial stuff behind me – thanks for your support

      • Ah, Brilliant thinking. The perfect remedy.

  27. Never describe yourself as Too Sensitive. What that person did was reprehensible and unprofessional. Clearly he had his own issues that made him feel small. Considering his behaviour, he probably was small in certain areas…(did I just say that out loud?) Sending you big hugs. We all mess up. It will make you a better reporter now. Keep your head up.

    • you have come to the perfect conclusions –thanks so much for your support, and you are right, I will pull my socks up

  28. You hit the nail on the head – that is making themselves look good at the expense of others. Unfortunately, that’s what politicians do at all levels of government. Be strong, yet sensible!

    • thanks Frank – sensible is the key word here

  29. I seriously think it boils down to a character issue. Obviously his is lacking. Without having been there I sense that he is insensitive and unaware of his own behavior aka, he’s a jerk. haha!
    I have no doubt that karma will come back to bite him in his insensitive butt. Seriously though, why not just treat people the way that you would want to be treated? “Do unto others…” It’s so elementary.

    • it is elementary isn’t it and you and I should not stop living by it, just because others don’t follow it (this is my pep talk to myself)
      thanks for dropping by – found you through Brigitte–she has good taste in bloggers!

      • She does, indeed. :)
        Have a beautiful day!!
        Grippy

    • reply number 2–because she mentioned you, not me–I am the LouAnn in her post

  30. Got it. I appreciate Brigitte spreading the love. It’s so great to be a part of this community. I look forward to getting to know you, LouAnn.
    Lisa

  31. Sounds like the guy was out to score some points at your expense. A stinky kind of thing to do. As mentioned above, he’s brave or silly considering the pen (or type) is mightier than the sword. Bruce


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