Proofreader’s Kneaded at The Charlotte News

If you didn’t notice anything odd about this headline, this story is probably not for you. However, if you spotted three deliberate errors, read on and consider volunteering as a proofreader. We need two, one for the paper and one for the website.

Each issue of The Charlotte News that arrives in your mailbox 25 times a year is the work of dozens of Charlotters and several out-of-towners. Our advertisers and donors provide the financial support that covers all our costs; without them, there wouldn’t be a paper. In addition to our employees, Scooter, Anna, Christy and Susan, several volunteers write stories, copy edit and proofread everything, and drop the paper at about 20 locations around Charlotte, Shelburne and Hinesburg.

No one at the newspaper likes to see errors of any kind in the paper, the newsletter or on our website, and our proofreaders catch almost all of them. Beth Merritt has been copy editing and proofreading the paper for almost 30 years, and she’s taking a well-deserved break, starting with this issue. We hope she’ll be back. I proofread the newsletter and website posts, responsibilities I enjoy but would like to pass on to someone with younger eyes.

We’re offering an enticing incentive for our copy editors and proofreaders, to be revealed below.

First, let’s talk about the nitty gritty. Proofreading the paper takes about three or four hours for each issue, starting as soon as the stories are ready on every second Monday evening and finishing up on the Wednesday morning. Our proofreaders work with word documents and pdf files accessed via the paper’s Dropbox account.

For the emailed newsletter, the work takes no more than an hour a week on Wednesday afternoons or before 8 a.m. on Thursday mornings. Proofreading our website posts takes between two and four hours every second Wednesday afternoon or evening. All this work is done in WordPress and the updating and review process is quite straightforward.

Our writers, copy editors and proofreaders all use style guides — one for the paper, one for the website — that we updated recently. This is where such matters as the use of abbreviations, uppercase letters in headlines, hyperlinked email addresses and the Oxford comma are detailed.

During the six years he served as the paper’s publisher and president, Vince Crockenberg offered to bake a chocolate pie when the first error-free paper hit Charlotte mailboxes. Sadly, his baking prowess was never put to the test.

As the current publisher, I’d like to renew Vince’s challenge with a variation. I grew up in New Zealand where “pavlova,” is a favorite traditional dessert. It’s a wonderful mix of meringue, fresh fruit, whipped cream and shaved chocolate. I’m offering to make a pavlova for our writers, copy editors and proofreaders when we produce the first error-free edition of The Charlotte News.

If you’re interested and would like to learn more – about proofreading the paper or our website – please contact Scooter MacMillan.

In the meantime, I’ll practice my pavlova technique and hope it’s put to the test … one day soon when our fresh, local strawberries, raspberries or blueberries are in season.