Last Friday, Craig Silverman reported on some new research which found that no commonly accepted standard exists for updating and maintaining news organizations’ online archives. But commenters had a lot to say on the ultimate value of “overly fussy” corrections policies.

“Actually, I’m all in favor of quick, low-fuss scrubbing of stories that mangle a fact or two. It’s a simple way to improve the accuracy of Web archives. On routine stories, media organizations aren’t really much different from contractors putting in tile floors … or teachers grading exams … or check-out clerks ringing up the price of groceries.

“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…”


The Editors