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Oops — my mistake. The FBA is not quite so profligate as I thought.

March 3, 2011

I'm sorry.

Those are three words you won’t read often anywhere near yours truly: “Oops” and “my mistake.” But late yesterday someone named “matt” wrote to suggest that I misread the press release from the fine folks at the Florida Book Awards.

That would be the press release that inspired my remarks about “award inflation” and the uselessness of too many awards.

“matt” politely apologized for “ruining your rant,” and proceeded to point out that the geographical winners — something I made a big deal about in yesterday’s blog post — did not actually amount to separate awards, but merely informed us as to where the winners came from in the state of Florida.

My initial response was, yeah but: Yeah, but, the FBA still gives out not only gold medals in each of eight categories, but also silver and bronze, and in some cases the bronze medals go to as many as three different books. My argument stands: The FBA gives too many awards, thereby diluting the impact of its own prizes, not to mention arts awards in general.

So there.

Then last night as I was motoring down into slumberland, I had one of those moments you get when the maiden turns into the sorry.

crone, or the rabbit into the duck, or the vase into the two profiles: Oh, wait: My misreading of the press release is much worse than I thought, and it does !@#$%^&* weaken my argument.

So: Sorry. My only excuse is that this is what comes from working too fast. I blame the new media — and long for the old media days when I wrote one or two meticulously reported and carefully crafted stories and/or reviews per week. And oh for the days when those pieces went through the hands of a content editor, a copy editor (or three) and a proofreader and then back to me before hitting the presses.

Nowadays, I’m on my lonesome, cranking out five blog posts a week, plus freelance stories and reviews, plus ghostwriting books whenever I can get the work.  No one edits or proofs my work but me, and no one is there to offer a squint eye and a perceptive question now and then.

To me this whole thing is doubly ironic because just Sunday I ran into Robin Berkowitz at the gym. Robin was my supervisor at the Sun-Sentinel for 12 or 13 years, and though I worked with some good editors during my newspaper career, she was head and shoulders the best.

Sorry in color.

Robin would have caught this misreading of the FBA in a  heartbeat, thus saving me from today’s soupcon of embarrassment. I hadn’t seen Robin in a couple of years — she doesn’t work at the paper anymore, either — and our too-brief reunion made me achingly nostalgic for the way things were when I actually had professional editorial support.

That’s not an excuse. Yesterday’s gone, don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow.  If I’m going to continue seeking my bread as a journalist, then I have to accept the realities of the new marketplace. And right now those realities mean I’m solely responsible for the accuracy and sense of everything I write. No editors, no proofreaders, no fact checkers. Just little ol’ me.

So here’s to you, FBA: My apologies. Because I misread your press release, I was a little too hard on you people yesterday. I still think my general

And in black and white.

argument stands — there are too damned many awards, and you are contributing to the problem — but it’s not as bad as I thought by about exactly half.

I know that you mean well. I know that you intend to help promote literary culture in Florida by handing how the FBA’s. I know in principle we are on the same side (and so, of course, are the angels).

So: Mea (gulp!) culpa.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2011 1:48 pm

    Hats off to you for your candor, Chauncey.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      March 3, 2011 10:59 pm

      Well, why the hell not? Maybe I’ll start a trend.

      • Wayne A. Wiegand permalink
        March 8, 2011 10:23 am

        On behalf of the Florida Book Awards, apology accepted (just kidding).

        I might also remind readers that our eight categories each have three-member juries. These juries have total authority to award one, two, or up to five medals per category. In many of our categories over the past five years juries have awarded only one gold, or one gold and one silver. Each jury sets its own standards for awarding medals, and believe me, they do discriminate!

        So Chauncey, we will have an opening on our General Fiction jury for next year. Want to join for a three year term? This will give you an opportunity (1) to see how the Florida Book Awards work from the inside and (2) to exercise even more influence over the book culture of the Sunshine State. Whuddya say?

        Wayne Wiegand, Director
        Florida Book Awards

  2. Candice Simmons permalink
    March 3, 2011 2:32 pm

    You are right. We don’t hear “oops, my mistake” very often these days. It’s usally more like “ooo–my bad.” Don’t be so hard on yourself.

    • Candice Simmons permalink
      March 3, 2011 2:33 pm

      I mean “usually.” We could all use a proofreader!

  3. March 3, 2011 9:10 pm

    No apology, no regrets. Be kind to yourself, Chauncey.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      March 3, 2011 11:03 pm

      Oh, I misread a press release, I think it’s only fair I acknowledge it. I owed the FBA an apology. One of the few things I didn’t like about newspapers was the way corrections are always buried somewhere inside, even if the error occurred in a front page story. My error was not bad, but let’s admit it at the same volume. Besides, this was more fun to write about than anything else I could find today.

  4. Steve Grubb permalink
    March 6, 2011 10:47 am

    You misspelled “kindergarten”, too.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      March 12, 2011 11:58 am

      Thanks a TON, Steve.

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