Mea Culpa

I have screwed up royally. I didn't check a fact I thought I knew (actually I thought I checked it but I obviously didn't) and now a review I wrote has gone into print with erroneous information in it. The editor is pissed and I don't blame him. It wouldn't be such a big deal but a) it was an easy thing for me to have caught and I just didn't; b) I kind of hinged the first part of my review on the incorrect fact; and c) I really feel bad for the editor that trusted me, and for the publication that printed it. Even the fact that I'll probably not get to write for this publication again, or for a long time, or ever, pales in comparison to the shame I feel at having let down an institution and a person that I hold in high regard. They trusted me, I blew it.

I'm horrified. I barely slept last night, I wasn't very productive today at work, I have been in a crappy mood for 28 hours. (There are other personal factors here too, but they're insignificant for the purposes of this post.) This is my worst nightmare. Ever heard of "Imposter Syndrome?" This is the very common feeling that someone's going to figure out what a fraud you are and call you on it. I don't know anyone who feels this more than me (unless it's my wife, haha people who went to Harvard constantly feel like this, and the ones who don't, should). MY WHOLE LIFE I've felt like this. Now it's made real, blowing up right in my face.

My stomach hurts. I know this isn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things: it's not like I killed somebody, the world's still turning, my kids are still awesome, etc. But I feel embarrassed and called-out and guilty anyway, because that's the way things go with me. Also because, in music reviewing terms, this is inexcusable.

No good to say to myself "Dude they're a band from another country, don't worry, no biggie"...yes, it IS a biggie. No good to say "I bought it with my own money and therefore there was no press release to fall back on"...that's why they invented the Internet. No good to say to myself "Maybe no one will notice"...I know, at least one reader knows, the editor knows, that's all that matters.

I dunno, maybe it's a sign. Maybe I've stretched myself too thin for accurate fact-checking or something -- I'm usually really good about stuff like this! Honestly! -- and maybe this is an early warning shot across the bow to let me know that I should own up, face my limitations or something.

At the very least, it's a lesson. People, check your damned facts before you send them to anyone. I'll never make it again...but I'm afraid that one publication, for which I have been writing a fair amount in the last year or so, is going to be dead to me. I'm not even pitching anything there for a while; self-imposed suspension. Couldn't happen to a greater and/or sadder guy.

Anyway, be happy that at least you're not me. Oy vey.


teeny said...

oh man, my sympathies. I am toying with the idea of trying to become a freelance mentalist and this scenario terrifies me.

Then again, does that mean I shouldn't try? ;)

blount said...

matt if it's the voice don't worry - i catch goofy oops factual inaccuracies in there all the time, enough so that i wonder if it's deliberate, like when chuck eddy confuses bands with other bands, etc.

Matt said...

blounty thanks but this was an egregious error; even c.e. was like "i have to print a retraction" on this one; the false info was in THE DAMN TITLE...that's not good.

confidential to L.A. in St. Louis: you should just GO FOR IT, girl; people who actually KNOW MUSIC are pretty damned rare in the critworld

Josh said...

cheer up Matt, we're still really fortunate to have you at Stylus, I know it doesn't pay and it's not the Voice but at least take consolation in knowing you're already one of our best writers.

Anthony Miccio said...

My first published review alleged that Omaha was the capitol of nebraska.

Someone should fact check a goddamn Dave Q article for once! He's always mixing up singers and bands (oh sure some say he's crackin' wry but I prefer to think he's so high he doesn't know WHAT is going on).

Anthony Miccio said...

oh and it was for the voice too. and one of chuck's higher-ups is from Lincoln. They printed a letter where someone pointed it out rather than a retraction.