Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Insert Dohn Mug Here

TigerBlog was at the Princeton-Rutgers men's basketball game in November when he heard his name called and turned around. He immediately recognized the voice and the face, even though it'd been years since he'd seen or heard either.

They both belonged to Brian Dohn, who it turns out is working for the website Dohn had most recently been in Los Angeles with the Daily News, where he covered the Dodgers for years. Before that, a long time ago, he was at the Trentonian, where he covered local colleges, which meant a great deal of Princeton.

Dohn was something of a hippie at the time, with his wardrobe of Mickey Mouse t-shirts and shoes that never had socks between them and his feet. TB isn't sure if Dohn still shuns socks year-round, in New Jersey and not just California.

Dohn was a mid-1990s visitor to Jadwin and Palmer Stadium, and TB isn't quite sure when he left for L.A. Back then, in the pre-web days, TB's job was close to 90% media relations, and he was fortunate to have a pretty good collection of local reporters, including Dohn, who was a solid guy to have around.

It was quite the group, with Chris Thorne from the Star-Ledger, John Bruns and Tara Finnegan from the Home-News, Mark Eckel and Harvey Yavener from the Trenton Times, Dohn from the Trentonian, Andy Kaye and Bob Nuse from the Princeton Packet, Jeb Stuart from the Town Topics.

Of that group, only Nuse still covers Princeton regularly. Stuart ended up selling Town Topics and, in retirement, worked in the OAC for years before he sadly passed away nearly three years ago.

It was Dohn who prodded Pete Carril to admit that Penn had Princeton's number after the 1996 regular-season finale, which was Penn's eighth straight win over Princeton and which forced the famous playoff game, asking the question three times and getting "I don't believe in that" back from Carril all three times. Then, when a different reporter asked what Carril what his team could do differently in the playoff game, Carril's response was to look at Dohn and say "nothing, if they have our number."

Dohn, if TB remembers correctly, wrote a column before the playoff game saying that "the smart money would be on Penn." After that, Carril started calling Dohn "smart money."

Dohn wrote a bunch of columns for the Trentonian and, like all columnists, had his head shot next to it. One day, the people in the composing room put the words "insert Dohn mug here" where Dohn's head shot was going to go, except that they forgot to actually do it, so that the paper was printed with the words "insert Dohn mug here" in that space.

TigerBlog was reminded of that story earlier this week when TB-Baltimore forwarded a link to a similar situation that happened in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

In this case, the person doing the layout (computers have long since rendered laying out pages by hand obsolete) put in the random letters to give a basic idea of what the headline would look like but more importantly to keep the font type and size in place. Only nobody went back and actually put in the headline.

When TB does a feature for a lacrosse program, he does essentially the same thing. The previous program will have a feature with a headline, and TB will usually type over that headline to hold it in place, usually with something like "ASDF" or simply the name of the person the story is about, rather than an actual headline.

It is one of TB's big fears that he's going to forget to go back and actually put the headline in, so when the program comes back from the printer, it's going to have a story with a headline that is a series of random letters.

To date, TB hasn't done that. But he's made enough other mistakes that he hasn't caught until it's too late, though fortunately it's never been something too bad.

The reality of working in something like athletic communications or at a newspaper is that what you're doing is going to be, for the most part, made public. The other reality is that you're going to make mistakes.

You try not to, and you do everything you can to minimize them. But there are always going to be some.

For the most part, these mistakes are really minor things.

Of course, there's also another reality to working in this arena: When you make a mistake, people are going to notice. And they're going to point it out to you.

It's just how it is. Either it bothers you or it doesn't, but it never is going to change.

TB has always been fascinated by how quickly people will jump on a mistake. He's pretty sure there's a reason for it, and he probably even knows what it is, but hey, everyone can draw their own conclusions.

Let's just say TB can handle it. And when his next "insert Dohn mug here" moment comes along, there'll be plenty of people ready to point it out.

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