Poynter has a trivial little piece about a newspaper that accidentally sent an electronic front-page dummy to Newseum’s gallery of front pages. No, that dummy copy didn’t appear as today’s front page of the Hamilton, Ohio, Journal-News, so it’s really a no-harm, no-foul situation. But it’s an excellent reminder why you should never put joke headlines and filler on electronic dummies.

To the desk’s credit, the dummy contained no stupid pranks and no dirty inside jokes, which have certainly gotten papers in hot water in the past. But the Newseum glitch brings to mind a designer who was fired at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch some years back (2005? 2006?) after sticking a filler line that read “DRINK VODKA” at the bottom of a column of type that came up short of the assigned space.

C’mon, folks. Always seek the inoffensive fix in that instance. Two possibilities are to insert a soft return on a dense paragraph to create a widow or to just vertically justify the column.

Of course, this incident also brings to mind a framing question: Why did Poynter choose to blame the newspaper for its honest mistake rather than blaming Newseum for not noticing the problem and requesting a resend? Staffs are short everywhere, but isn’t getting the right front page more central to Newseum’s mission than sending the right one is to the Journal-News?

Dummy page on Newseum