By Dan Hust
CALLICOON April 1, 2003 Sullivan County Democrat Publisher Fred Stabbert III walked into a Jeffersonville convenience store early Friday morning to catch a cup of coffee and a copy of the days Democrat.
The pile of papers was right where it should be, but as he got closer, Stabbert noticed something odd.
The date was right, but the front page didnt look at all like what he had sent to the printer the evening before.
In fact, the front page looked exactly like the one he had helped put together a month ago.
The cup of coffee was forgotten, and Stabbert bolted to the Democrats main office in Callicoon. There, he discovered the dreaded truth: every copy of the Friday, March 28, 2003 Weekender Edition of the Sullivan County Democrat had the wrong front page.
Instead of a page full of news about a murder trial, a dog show, a new school superintendent and a mayoral election, this page 1A featured news about the upcoming village elections on March 18 and Sullivan County Court Judge Frank LaBudas sons participation in a to-be-declared war in Iraq.
It was all the news of February 28, instead of March 28.
Stabbert quickly found out that the rest of the paper was indeed the March 28 issue, mitigating the mistake just a tiny bit.
But by now, people all over Sullivan County were picking up a newspaper that seemed at least vaguely familiar, so Stabbert made a call to the papers contracted printer.
After a short investigation, the printing staff found out that an employee had clicked on the 2-28 e-mail of the front page instead of the 3-28 e-mail.
Somehow not noticing the error, he sent it to the printing press. Alert staffers there spotted the February 28 date and sent it back to the imaging department, which then gave a call to Stabbert to inform him of the problem.
However, no one realized that the entire front page not just the date was wrong, so Stabbert authorized the date change . . . and 10,000 copies of the February 28 front page of the Democrat hit the newsstands and mailboxes the next morning.
Once the printing company realized the extent of their blunder on Friday, the printing press schedule was interrupted and the correct front page was sent through. By Saturday morning, subscribers had a replacement paper in their mailboxes, and the rest of the Democrats readers could find the corrected version on hundreds of newsstands throughout the area.
A mistake of this nature has never happened in the Democrats 112-year history, including the 75 years the Stabberts have published it through their company, Catskill-Delaware Publications, Inc.
In fact, said Stabbert, it appears that recent technology made such an error far easier.
Through the use of our high-speed Internet connection, we can now e-mail the pages of our newspaper to the printer, said Stabbert. However, even technology needs to be used properly, and simply opening the wrong e-mail caused us a lot of problems.
Both the Democrat and its printing company are intent on ensuring such a mistake never happens again, said Stabbert.