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Errors, P.M. Class

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  1. Andrew Mach
    October 1, 2010 at 11:44 am

    If my name were spelled wrong in a story published online, I would expect the news organization to correct it immediately. Because it’s an online news source, this could be fixed the same day. I wouldn’t expect any online news organization to attach a correction to the bottom of a story, because with online stories, it seems like there is no evidence of errors as long as the story is corrected. By that, I mean a number of people who read the story after it’s corrected won’t know that my name was ever spelled wrong. It’s a shame that the original story might show up in a Google search, but, quite frankly, if I were the editor I would rather fix the error as soon as possible and then be done with it. As a source, I can understand that.

    If the errors were more substantive, I would expect a full correction attached, even if it was online. Names are one thing but if facts are miscalculated or misjudged, that needs to be changed immediately so the reader will know and the news source ought to call attention to it.

    Overall, though, I feel that online errors should be corrected as soon as the error is noticed. I don’t ever see corrections attached to online stories. But if there were comments or calls from angry readers, then it’s probably appropriate to include a note at the bottom of the story.

    While publishing stories online is faster, it’s even more important to get names and facts right the first time because there often won’t be a formal opportunity, like the next day’s printing, for example, for the news source to correct an error. And if readers don’t understand the errors, then the integrity of the news organization is compromised. If errors go uncorrected, readers go misinformed. That’s why it’s important to always be vigilant when reporting, writing and editing.

  2. Jarad Kinyoun
    October 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    After reading both articles I think it is kind of concerning that there is no set policy for listing corrections to online articles. If a name is spelled wrong on an article online it should be corrected immediately and there should be a note somewhere at the beginning or end of the article to indicate the correction. For the most part no matter the error any correction should be posted with article so readers are aware of the change. Doing that helps maintain credibility in my opinion. To not post some sort of notice to the reader indicating the change seems deceptive. The only thing that I feel does not warrant a post is any correction to spelling or grammatical errors that do not effect the meaning of the article.

    The maintenance of online articles by news organizations can be handled better as well. If a story was posted then months later the accuracy of the article is no longer correct, a correction needs to be posted. The articles we read indicates that you can search online for an article and find one that is incorrect. Better maintenance of online archives could prevent that, if a correction is posted make only corrected article available online. If company does not have the time or money to maintain their archives then it becomes important that the original post is corrected and the change is noted some where on the article.

  3. Kay Kemmet
    October 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Online news sources have the ability to correct errors quickly by scrubbing away mistakes. However, I think changing a detail within the story without explaining it is unethical. News sources should be held accountable for their mistakes. Rather than changing a detail within the story, the correction should be posted at the beginning or end of the story with the correction the same way a print correction would be inserted into a newspaper.

    Because most news sources have a feature where readers can comment on their stories, scrubbing away mistakes — especially one found and commented on by readers — makes that news source look less credible. At least by posting that a correction was necessary, the news source can show that they take responsibility for errors.

    Regardless of the magnitude of the error, rather it is a misspelled name or an incorrect fact, errors should be corrected this way. While the Internet has made it easier for journalists to correct their mistakes, it should not affect thoroughness. Online journalists should be responsible to make corrections in the same manner print journalists are.

    This treatment of corrections also would help with the issue addressed in the “Web Mistakes” article. If online journalists are required to make correction in the same manner as print journalists, there wouldn’t be room for them to have lower standards of fact checking.

    If facts in an old story are incorrect, they should be corrected in the same manner a new story would be corrected in order to keep the information online as reputable as possible. However, stories shouldn’t be unpublished unless there is a special case like in the Craig Silverman article with the woman who accidentally uploaded nude pictures to a newspaper website.

    The Internet is a great resource and a useful medium for journalists, but it should not be misused. The fast and easy flow of information should encourage online journalists to be more diligent. There is so much information online that is not reputable, which makes online journalists more accountable. Online journalists need to set their writing apart as being reliable and up-to-date.

  4. Taylor Dahl
    October 3, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    If anything about me was misspelled or incorrect, I would certainly hope that the newspaper would put a correction at the end of the article. They should not change a detail within the story, but at the beginning and or end of the story. By having the edit notice at the end of the story, that shows the reader that the newspaper screwed up and they are more creditable.

    I think that editing an article online would be a lot easier, but it is something that some people may forget to do, or think it is less important. If an past article has incorrect information, than it needs to be updated. If I was the editor online I would make sure the person who wrote the article fixes his or her mistake; so they know they screwed up and so they don’t do it again.

  5. Brandon Jochum
    October 4, 2010 at 12:31 am

    I think that a journalist’s obligation to accuracy and the truth should always be first in his or her mind. The ease involved in the “scrubbing” of errors in online articles is no excuse for not making readers aware of a mistake. I grant that not all errors are worthy of an attached correction, such as minor slip-ups in spelling or grammar. However, if the error effects the message of the story in any way or causes confusion amongst readers, there should be an attached correction. In my opinion, a mistake should also be corrected in the original story as opposed to re-posting the story with the correction made. The most important thing is that the readers know there was an error and that it was corrected. I believe that a publication that takes responsibility for making mistakes commands a greater amount of respect than one that just “scrubs” over everything.

    In the case of a story that changes over time, such as a person being arrested for drunken driving and then having the charges dropped, I think the reporter who wrote the first story should write a follow-up. A story doesn’t end just because a person gets arrested, it ends when events have completely unfolded.

  6. Kate Fennelly
    October 4, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I think that errors should be fixed as quickly as possible. If the error is a misspelling or a small grammar issue, I think a note isn’t necessary. If the problem is a factual error, a correction notice should accompany at the story, either at the beginning or the end. It should follow the same format of a correction page in a print newspaper. The correction should include the time the correction was made or the time the story was updated. I liked The New York Times and The Washington Post’s method of a separate online corrections page. If a story changes over time, I think that the story should remain on the website, but an additional story should be written. This could be a link at the end of the original article. I really don’t think that “scrubbing” is an ethical solution to online errors.
    While I don’t think that there is any easy solution to this problem, I do think standards need to be defined. I think the most realistic approach would be to have each news source set its own standards, but I don’t think scrubbing is a solution.

  7. Mallory Miller
    October 4, 2010 at 11:29 am

    For the first three situations: a name spelled incorrectly, getting a quote wrong, and printing the Chancellor’s salary incorrectly, I would say that the best option is attaching a correction. The story should be corrected and then a note should be attached that says what the error in the previous story was. Simply “scrubbing” out an error would be wrong because it is kind of like pretending you never made an error. Putting on a correction kind of serves as an apology to the readers and the person whose name, quote, or fact about them was reported incorrectly.

    In the case of a story that changes over time, and may affect someone’s reputation, the best option is to post an update. If someone is arrested for drunken driving, but the charges are later dropped, the paper has a responsibility to update the story.

  8. Cory Dozier
    October 4, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I think any error made by the media should not only be corrected, but also have some way of indicating that the error was there in the first place. Scrubbing should not be practiced by any branch of the media because it allows journalists to become lazy with their accuracy and attention to detail. Even the simplest errors should never be scrubbed. As it’s always been in journalism before the internet, errors should be pointed out to all readers. There should be some form of standardization for editors to reference which would make it much easier to overcome these challenges. I found the way the online magazine Slate handled corrections to be very appropriate. Putting an asterisk after the correction allows the reader see the error for themselves. As for dropped charges, I think the online publication should put a brief, updated story attached to the original story about the charges being dropped so that it’s fair to the accused person and allows the reader to see the charges were dropped.

  9. Jessica Sluyter
    October 4, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I find myself strongly agreeing with Craig Silverman’s stance on how to handle correcting online errors. The public needs to be aware of a factual mistake by the editor including a correction. Therefore, if I were the editor of the newspaper that misspelled someone’s last name, I would attach a correction to the story. I would not scrub the mistake and simply correct the name.

    Similarly, if the journalist incorrectly reports the subject’s favorite part of Nebraska, a correction would have to be attached to the original article. In fact, I think Slate magazine’s policy for marking a correction works well for an online news source. The magazine places an asterisk at the end of the corrected sentence. The reader can then click on the asterisk to see the correction. This is a clever way to notify online readers of the specific error in the story.

    As for the other situations, a correction would need to be attached to all of the stories. Since editors cannot “update” the physical newspaper, I believe it is unethical for editors to “update” online stories. A correction always needs to be attached to the story, just as a correction would run in tomorrow’s newspaper.

    However, the drunken driving scenario brings up a different issue. Should newspaper companies remove articles from its website, if the information becomes outdated? My answer is no. If a story about a professor who is arrested for drunken driving is deemed newsworthy, then the information within the story cannot become outdated.

    If the charges against the professor are dropped, then the newspaper could include this news in the Reports section, or post a new article about the charges being dropped.

  10. Jade Novotny
    October 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    I believe that errors definately need to be corrected but scrubbing is wrong. An error should not be just fixed, it should also have a correction either before or after the article explaining the error and how it should have been fixed. If it is simple as a name mispelling it should be fixed in the article but should still contain the correction explaining that it was mispelled and has been fixed. To keep credibility a news website needs to acknowledge that it made a mistake and explain how it was fixed. If the site just scrubs an error it can lose crediblity with the public. I think letting an article fall off of the site is an easy way to deal with incorrect old articles it is not right. Articles should be kept on the site and fixed with a correction when something is found to be wrong.

  11. Kevin Shanahan
    October 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    If I were in charge of an online publication and encountered an incident of a misspelled name, it would be my policy to immediately make a correction to that mistake as well as attaching a correction to the story. One of the advantages of online media is the fact that you can make these corrections rapidly, but I don’t like the idea of writers not having to own up to their mistakes and simply inserting corrections into a story with no documentation or attachment. Although a quick correction may result in a majority of the readership viewing the correct information, who’s to say how many were exposed to false information before the story was corrected?
    When an error is more substantive, I think that the inclusion of a correction attachment becomes even more important. Errors in the substance of a paper can be completely misleading and could potentially alter the truth within the story. I think that in these cases, it would be unethical to simply add in a correction without any notation of that fix. The fact is that even though the story may have been online, there is almost assuredly a number of people who may have been misled by the information they were presented. An attached correction is something that a writer owes to their reader, not simply inserting a correction without any acknowledgement of the mistake.
    Overall, I think that newspapers should be as diligent in fixing online corrections as they are in fixing corrections within the actual print publication. With the trend toward online media, I think that this is becoming more and more important. Many people access the news solely from online sources and I don’t see why they shouldn’t be afforded the same treatment in regards to corrections in stories. The fact is that it is much easier to make corrections to online stories, so I see no reason why publications shouldn’t take the same steps in attaching correction notes.

  12. Alex Wunrow
    October 4, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I believe that for the sake of accuracy it is always in the best interest to attach a correction to any mistake that was made online. Simply updating the story isn’t enough, because there are going to be plenty of people who read the story with an error that will not be re-reading it to make sure that everything was updated correctly.

    Especially in the cases of misquoting someone, or misspelling someone’s name, the publication absolutely needs to make the correction. Also in cases of reporting arrests when the chargers are dropped should be corrected. Without these corrections, inaccurate information will spread, which not only does a disservice to the readers, but damages the legitimacy of the publication.

    This very things happened within that article that I sent you about LeBron James from ESPN. Inaccurate information was found within an article, but it was accidentally posted online and immediately pulled. But as you know, once something is on the internet it never goes away. The article was found and it hurt ESPN’s legitimacy. Fortunately they posted an editorial speaking about their flawed practices, and did it’s best to get all the facts straight.

    When things go wrong, corrections need be made, otherwise you risk losing all legitimacy that you once had.

  13. Bob Al-Greene
    October 4, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    What’s really at stake when journalists debate whether to “scrub” online archives or simply attach corrections is pride. Would reporters and editors rather have the evidence of their errors live online, or would they rather the errors fade into oblivion? Reporters should never be afraid to live up to their own mistakes. Correcting online stories certainly seems to be the right thing to do – keeping information that you know is false posted online isn’t right – but there should be clearly posted and stated correction statements to accompany stories that needed fixing. We should strive to be factually accurate at all times, and to have all our content be similarly accurate, but owning up to our mistakes, no matter how relevant, fulfills the essential bond of trust that should exist between the media and the public.

  14. Anna Reed
    October 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    If my name or quote was incorrect within an online news source, I would expect that the editor correct it as quickly as possible. I understand the appeal of simply “scrubbing” out the error, the ethical implications require a correction to be noted. To just quickly correct the mistake may be too late for some readers, who have already read the article. Also, ignoring the mistake sets up the news source to be one careless about other potential mistakes. The mentality of reporters may become, ” Well… I do no need to worry so much about certain details now, because I can always go back and fix them later.” The integrity of the media source is at risk when mistakes are “scrubbed” out.

  15. October 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I believe that if my name was spelled wrong online, I believe that it should be corrected in the original article and have some way of notifying the reader that a correction has been made. Even if it is a tiny mistake, or a more substantive one, I believe that the same format should be followed for all mistakes. It should be corrected and it should let the reader know that there was a mistake, the paper acknowledges it and the information the reader is looking at is factual.

    The trickiest situation in the whole list of questions is if someone was accused of drunken driving, and the charges were dropped. Newspapers have no real obligation in my mind to remove the story. In fact, I think it would be unethical to remove the story. But it could be possible (and a lot more work for the reporters) to go back in and post updates on stories like that (convictions, charges dropped, etc.) so that readers can keep updated.

    The Internet is causing a whole slew of new ethical issues, and I believe that it is important for journalists to not compromise their ethics in a day and age where fixing your mistakes is as simple as pressing the backspace key.

  16. Kyle Bruggeman
    October 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    To error is to be human. To cover up errors, in journalism as well as life, is unethical. The inconsistency of errors being reported online is surprising.

    It’s as if many news outlets have a sense of apathy when it comes to reporting through the internet. Craig Silverman makes a good point when comparing the last 100 years of journalism as always admitting errors and that today should be no different.

    The method of showing these errors to readers is up to the publication. Some make the corrections prominent, others require clicking a link. As long as the reader can easily find these corrections, there is no problem.

    Even charges that are dropped should not be removed from public record, but instead shown with correction. There could be an investigation into police officers arresting too many citizens for no good reason, and such an example would be good for statistical purposes.

    Name spelling is crucial for internet articles, because users may search using a name, and if that name is not spelled properly the article will not be parsed in the search result.

    If I were the editor for an online publication, my policy would be to run the correction at the top of the article in grey text. That way there is never any confusion when the reader begins the article, and it still clearly seems separate from the original report in black text.

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