As noted in our editorial on the opposite page, we are marking 30 years of publishing The Interim this month. I have had the privilege of writing and serving on the editorial board of this paper for 15 years, and as editor for almost 12 years. I consider it an incredible honour to be able to use my journalistic talents to further the pro-life cause and to serve the pro-life movement.
The goal, every month, is to put out the best Interim ever published. With such a philosophy, we strive to continually improve. But last month I failed you, the readers of this paper, by putting together a cover that was terrible on many levels. I knew it once I saw the physical paper return from the printer’s shop. And you knew it, too; many of you contacted us because we failed to meet the high standards you justly have for The Interim. I am thankful that we have readers as attentive to detail as many of you are; your justified complaints are a testament to the fact that as readers, you care as much about this publication as those of us who work here.
There were three errors with last month’s cover.
First, we misspelled the word “euthanasia” on the cover. In the hurry to complete the cover, none of the people who looked at it noticed that we spelled euthanasia without the second a. I could explain how this typo happened, but there is no excusing the fact we messed up. It is embarrassing to make spelling errors in a newspaper, but it is always worse when it is done in a headline. It is horrifying to find such mistakes on the cover.
Second, the art work of the doctor dressed up as the Grim Reaper didn’t work. The fault is mine. Our artist, Sharon Rose Milan, drew what I asked of her, but warned me the doctor wearing the hooded garb of death personified wasn’t working. She suggested that we alter the drawing by blacking in the face so you could not see it, turning the doctor into the Grim Reaper himself. I resisted her sensible suggestion because I was too married to the idea of depicting a doctor. The problem is that the doctor looked like Mary, mother of Jesus. Many readers emailed, wrote, and called to ask why we depicted Mary as the Angel of Death. Many of you raised this concern. I apologize for not being more attentive to the optics of this element of our cover art and (unintentionally) upsetting many of you. You must know, however, that portraying Mary as the bearer of death was never our intention.
Lastly, and perhaps most problematically, we erred in our headline, “Quebec to permit euthanasia.” The headline and the tone of the page 2 article strongly suggested that Quebec will ignore Canada’s Criminal Code prohibiting doctor-assisted suicide. The fact is, the government said it will introduce legislation to not prosecute euthanasia and doctor assisted-suicide cases, but has yet to propose a bill nor has the National Assembly voted on it. By implying that such as a law is a fait accompli we may have undermined the efforts of pro-life, religious, and disability groups to defeat this law. Of course, we encourage readers in Quebec to actively oppose the imposition of such a misplaced and lethal solution to suffering. Those interested in fighting this law are encouraged to contact the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition by calling 1-877-439-3348 or emailing email@example.com. They should also contact Campagne Quebec-Vie by calling (514) 344-2686 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also made an error in the accompanying story, spelling Campagne Quebec-Vie president Georges Buscemi’s name incorrectly several times. Worse yet, we misspelled it differently each time. The first thing you learn in journalism school is to spell names correctly. We apologize to Georges for the sloppy reporting, and to our readers for failing to live up to the standards of quality journalism that you and the movement deserve.
I apologize for all errors that make it into our pages, but readers let us know that we really dropped the ball on the cover of the February edition. I have written in the past that we strive for perfection, but fall short (too often). But like Orel Hershiser, the great Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher of the 1980s, when we fail at our bid for perfection we recommit ourselves to that goal for the rest of the game. We will use the mistakes of the February issue to learn: we will get more feedback on cover material, get more eyes to look over things, and be sensitive to the needs of the movement in our coverage and word choices.