We gave you a cliffhanger
Getting the needle
The police reporter is the first person to arrive early Saturday mornings as the Sunday edition begins its day. It's usually a quiet time. The phones rarely ring.
Staff writer Cindy Stauffer had that duty Saturday a week ago and was busy. Early that morning, firefighters in Strasburg had rescued two young people from a burning building. She got the first version of the story posted on LancaserOnline and then headed to the scene.
When she returned around 7:30 a.m., phones were ringing. She answered one, then another, then ...
In Saturday morning's paper, an article about Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to fund education and handle the state's pension problem was printed on B1 and told readers to see the rest of the story -- we call it a jump -- on B2.
One problem: The jump wasn't there. Or on any other page in the section. Cindy called Digital Editor Tom Murse at home and he placed the entire article on LancasterOnline.
The calls kept coming as News Editor Barb Hough Roda arrived next and took over. She was followed by staff writer Suzanne Cassidy, who often read the rest of the article to callers.
Missing a jump rarely happens, but when it does, we look bad, and callers question our IQs. We might get a dozen calls, but this situation was different. The article ended at a crucial point that made a nervous group even jumpier.
The last words on B1:
Corbett told the paper he and his budget secretary were considering revisions to the pension formulas that could significantly alter the retirement benefits of current state ...
That left retired educators (the bulk of callers) and other state employees wondering what the governor was up to.
One caller referred to the cutoff of the article as a "cliffhanger."
A retired principal said that not including the jump was like "Downton Abbey" ending without resolving a crucial story line. One retiree wondered jokingly if the rest of the story was "maybe too scary to print."
But here was the rest of the paragraph:
... workers and school employees. Corbett said he did not envision reductions in retirees' benefits, or to the pension benefits active employees have already accrued.
Whew! That was a relief to many callers.
However, the husband of a teacher said, "I wish I could believe him [Corbett]." He added about teachers: "They're a feisty group when you start messing with their compensation."
Another caller, the wife of a retired state worker, said that if the governor is looking to cut pensions and benefits, start with legislators. A retiree from the private sector was nervous for a different reason: He is concerned about his taxes going up to pay those pensions.
Some calls were amusing. One woman wondered if it was her age that kept her from finding the jump. Another worried that her eyesight was going bad. We reprinted the entire story in Sunday's paper.
Why was the jump missing? Human error. We have put in a system of checks and cross-checks to cut the chances of it happening again.
We could have lived without this mistake, but it did tell us something, as Cindy Stauffer related:
"Lancaster County residents get up early, even on the weekends. They read their paper carefully."
I use the word "records" when referring to music, which upsets daughter Abigail. The 17-year-old told me:
''Get your head out of the 1950s."n