In spring of 2011 it took me the better part of a month to get The Los Angeles Times to correct a minor factual error about a storied cafe in Cairo. I called the paper’s correction desk and repeatedly filled out their online correction form, but I was ignored. It wasn’t until I started slamming the paper on Twitter everyday (“Day 24 of uncorrected @LATimes error,” for example), that they grew tired of my harassment and fixed the damn mistake. But this was atypical of how the LA Times usually handles errors.
Global news organizations, on the other hand, seem to be almost unified in not taking errors, or their public correction, seriously. This is not a time when global newsmakers can be cavalier about factual accuracy, especially since errors in foreign reporting can creep up more frequently than in other beats. Newsmakers constantly face greater scrutiny, financial pressure, and external competition. The easiest way to lose an audience is to get things wrong and leave them wrong, and once you lose audience trust it takes eons to get it back.
Correction: This article originally reported that the website of Voice of America contains no statement regarding its online corrections policy. In fact, such a statement is available here, under “Corrections”: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/69075687.html. CJR regrets the error.