“We’re talking about high-volume, low-glory work that usually is done to pretty solid standards, but where minor mistakes are a way of life, too.

“Fix the mistakes. Fix them quickly with a minimum of fuss. Treat the customer, reader or student with respect — and don’t act as if the future of the First Amendment is at stake. It isn’t.

“What is at stake is readers’ belief that a media organization either can tidy up minor errors with the speed and grace of the tile guy, teacher, etc. — or for reasons of institutional arrogance, just plain can’t. There’s nothing like a three-week set of hassles, talking to a half-dozen different people who all have to get “involved” before a minor error can be tidied up, to make readers get really tired of dealing with “the media.”

“The overly fussy approach of Public Editors is designed to provide job security for Public Editors — and annoyance for everyone else.”

Disappearing Reader

“Before launching The Ann Arbor Chronicle in September 2008, we spent considerable time talking about how to handle corrections. Accountability and transparency are important, but we didn’t see any real models among online news publications for handling this. Ultimately, we decided to make corrections in a very visible way. To correct an error in an article, we strike through the incorrect word or phrase or (gulp) sentence and put that section in red. If we need to add information, the addition is made in blue text. We also have a “Missed Ticks” section on our front page (alluding to a general clock motif on our site), which notes each error and links back to the original articles.

“Not sure if this falls into the “overly fussy” category or not. I hope that it instills a greater level of trust with our readers, and highlights the fact that we take the notion of “public record” very seriously.”
Mary Morgan

Head of the CLASS

On Monday, Trudy Lieberman called former insurance lawyer and current senator Ben Nelson’s opposition of the CLASS Act—a government-run long-term care plan—one of the most underreported health reform stories around. Commenters had much to say about Nelson, the CLASS Act, and what really motivates insurance companies.

“As a general comment it’s very dispiriting to see the level of commentary on this issue as exemplified by this article and comments. Do you really think that the health insurance companies are evil? What about the non-profit insurance companies, are they just plain nasty too?

“It’s easy to look at this cynically from both sides. A big reason why the Dems are pushing this - against significant voter disapproval - is to lock in benefits for their voter base. Adding jobs and members to public employee unions is a big plus too. And the reason why no one is talking about tort reform is because they are the Dems bread and butter.

“My take is that it is pure unadulterated madness for the US to add a huge new entitlement program during a time of recession and huge deficits. I’m sure you will think I’m evil for having that opinion, too…”


“Insurance agencies aren’t evil, they are merely motivated against the interests of their customers because they prioritize the interests of their shareholders. And maybe if customers had choices - instead of being locked into their employer’s subsidized choices or forced to shop alone without the benefit of a pool prices, maybe if medical services weren’t essential services - meaning customers could negotiate over their coverage and people who can’t get private coverage because of preexisting conditions weren’t inconvenienced, maybe if insurance companies didn’t have state by state monopolies and exceptions from the government that protected them, then maybe we wouldn’t be complaining about how evil the insurance companies are because they wouldn’t have the opportunity.
But the fact is they do, so they are, and that because they are taking advantage of the rules of the game.
So it makes perfect sense to change the rules of the game when the current game is faulty.
What would make even more sense is to change the game completely, as is done in other countries, and socialize the whole system. Be thankful that option was taken off the table long ago.”


Winter Reading List

On Tuesday, CJR
asked readers
to suggest some titles for its annual list of books that journalists ought to read over the winter. Here are a few of the suggestions we’ve received so far.

“‘Gaily, Gaily’ by Ben Hecht. A terrific book written in 1963 about a young Chicago reporter’s life in the 19-teens, when newspapers were racy, fun, uninhibited and occasionally accurate. Hecht got fired for writing a book considered obscene in 1922, so you know he was onto something.”

Aaron Elstein

The Editors