I mentioned in the first meeting today of the general assignment beat how important it is to make sure (when getting the spelling of someone’s name over the phone in particular) that we are hearing accurately. A “p” sounds a lot like a “b” and maybe even a “d” over the phone. And an “m” can sound like “n”. So what’s the answer? Try the old Alpha-Bravo-Charlie phonetic method. (“Is that B as in Bravo Mrs. Brown?” “No, dear, it’s P as in Peter — the name is PROWN. Yes, I know it’s unusual.”)
I also mentioned the checklist created by Regret the Error. (I love this site. Love it madly.) Here’s that handy checklist. Print it and stick it in your favorite notebook. Use it faithfully. Physicians and nurses now use checklists to reduce staph infections in hospitals. It works. Let’s stamp out the infection of inaccuracy and take a giant step toward regaining readers’ trust.