“We want to acknowledge the imperfections we see and invite people to help us fill those gaps and point out other mistakes,” he says. “We think it will build credibility and we do think corrections and being candid and humble about the mistakes you make builds credibility.”
The “Complete This Story” box is still in development—when asked when the site will launch, all Buttry would say is “soon”—and TBD is going to be working with its journalists to train them how to best use this feature. My guess is it will take time and experimentation to get it to work correctly, and some reporters will inevitably be better at using it than others.
“Our deadline is always as soon as you can get it online,” Buttry says. “We need to have workshops before launch … One of the things we’ll talk about is if you’re trying to crowdsource whether something is true you won’t repeat the rumor and say, ‘We’re trying to nail down this rumor.’ We might say ‘We’re trying to find out if you know anything about’ and state the topic.”
Along with being a way to facilitate crowdsourcing, it’s an important step in the direction of acknowledging that, as my friend David Cohn likes to say, journalism is a process, not a product.
Buttry says the box is also a way of being transparent about what is and isn’t contained in a story. Ultimately, he believes that exposing your challenges and weaknesses is a good way to build trust.
“We’re gong to make mistakes—I guarantee you that,” he says. “But we’re going to make and correct them in a transparent way that will build credibility.”
Correction of the Week
“A picture of Pearl Te Amo, sent to prison for drink- driving causing death and for failing to stop after the accident, was incorrectly captioned yesterday as Michelle Grace (pictured), who was the victim of the fatal crash. We apologise to the extended Grace family for the distress this mistake caused.” – The Southland Times (New Zealand)