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Northern Reporter: How a bout that

August 2, 2012

Well I did say I had no free time, didn’t I?

A single post about time management early in the summer and I disappear like, uh, like a shadow from a light bulb. Is that clever? Who knows, I’m tired.

Anyway, as I wrestled with someting to write about during a sudden moment of freedom, I recalled an early career story that I can’t believe I haven’t told yet.

So the year was 2007. Fresh at my first paper, I was assigned to report on the local boxing club which was hosting a competition over the weekend.

My extensive knowledge of boxing at that moment in time was as follows:


Yes, that much. However I watched the matches with enthusiasm, taking as many non-flash photos as I could, after the referee stopped a match and asked that I not use the flash after I made the flub. In a dark boxing arena that was terrible news for a reporter.

I carried on, however, and did what I could.

Back at the office later, the protocol was I laid out the sports page myself once I received the dummy, and my editor would take a peek at it before I marked it done.

This week, falling behind on his own work, the editor simply said he trusted me this time and to just send it when I thought it was ready.

Extra responsibility. Oh yeah!

Except my sorely lacking background in sports would have been obvious to my editor when I wrote passages referring to a “game” of boxing. There was something else I did repeatedly. Perhaps said exhibit match instead of exhibition. Who knows. All I know is that I butchered the terminology of the game.

Now, I argue to this day that boxing should be considered a game. Two people compete for a prize. Sounds like a game to me, just with more punching. I can’t really argue the other mess-up in the terminology, but hey, live and learn.

The boxing coach himself, a very nice, large, intimidating man, calmly filled me in on what I got wrong at a later match. I admire a person who strives to educate rather than belittle.

The random, anonymous e-mail from somewhere in Victoria, BC wasn’t so nice. A reader who keeps up with us online read the story and sent  a terse message basically insinuating I lacked mental capacity and questioned whether I even care about what I write.

I do care, for the record.

Ignorance isn’t always bliss, especially in the public record. Without knowing I didn’t know, I wrote up a boxing story with the wording all wrong.

I later purchased a copy of the New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge, specifically in response to my flub. It’s a massive book, but if it told me my bouts from my games or my rinks from my teams, it’d be money well spent.

And just so you know, boaters are also not to be messed with. My editor once told me about the readers who phoned him after he mistakenly called a larger tanker-like vessel a “boat”. It’s a vessel, dontchaknow?

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