What is the capital of Kentucky, Louisville or Lexington?
The answer is neither. And there are plenty of other states with
capitals that are not in the best-known cities. Think of Carson
City, or Montpelier, or Salem, or Jefferson City or Olympia.
I memorized all the capitals in school, and others here at
Travel Weekly carry such information in their heads, too. We also
have a newspaper's typical checks-and-balances system meant to
catch errors made by authors or editors; several sets of eyes see
everything we print.
Even that did not prevent us from incorrectly identifying
Charleston as South Carolina's capital recently. The error brought
several responses, some meant to gently tweak us and a couple that
weren't so gentle.
I mention this because it is fascinating to see which of our
stumbles generate a reader response and which seem to go unnoticed,
or perhaps are simply forgiven.
Believe me, we have found -- and not printed -- some real lulus,
and we have printed lulus, too, big ones that may or may not
inspire calls or letters. Any newspaper reporter has two fears: One
is being badly beaten by the competition and the other is seeing
his or her bad mistake make it into print.
It starts in college: When I was at the University of Iowa, we
"celebrated" the big ones with annual Bullitzer Prizes. I still
recall two: There was the ad for Bremer's Shirts in which the "r"
was left out of "shirts," and the news story in which Ursula
Andress' name was spelled wrong. (You figure that one out.)
We've taken some prizes at Travel Weekly, too. One of Alan
Fredericks' favorites was the headline for a hotel chain in which
the word "hotel" was misspelled "hovel."
My favorite features the IQ-challenged reporter in the 1970s who
selected for publication a story that described all the fine hotels
in Beirut. Unfortunately, when he put that one on page, most of the
hotels had big holes in them because a civil war was raging in
Before I wrap up, I must make clear that screwball things happen
at all publications including the venerated New York Times.
Printing your work every day is hazardous, but those who choose
a journalism career have a certain affinity for living on the edge.
That includes plenty of us at Travel Weekly, and we will continue
our fight against error, day after day, week after week.
Finally, for those who also know all the capitals but can't
think of Kentucky's right now, the little-known city is