A friend recently wrote me an e-mail, saying he panics whenever he works on a story. The threat of errors haunts him ceaselessly. When he’s writing, when he’s reporting, when he’s reading the finished product.
I get it.
Back in, oh, 1995, I wrote a lengthy piece for The Tennessean on an up-and-coming local rock band named Dreaming In English. They were awesome, and I spent a week following them from gig to gig, attending rehearsals, watching them hang up signs, etc. It was a piece I dove 100 percent into; the kind of story a young writer dreams of doing.
Then the newspaper came out. The lead singer was named Tyrone Banks.
I identified him as Tyrone Brooks—repeatedly.
I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I was beyond humiliated, and thought my career was forever ruined. It was, at that point, the worst moment of my mediocre shit career.
I did. I apologized to the band, and they were cool about it. Mistakes happen. They happened to David Halberstam, they happen to Mark Kriegel and Howard Bryant and Jonathan Eig and, well, all of us. The best you can do is apologize, correct and move forward.