The right approach to corrections

by andybechtel

I’ve been enjoying a Reuters blog called The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. (The serial comma is theirs, not mine.) The wire service reports and responds to reader complaints in a pithy fashion.

It’s a welcome approach that many U.S. publications could try. Too many newspapers fail to own up to their mistakes. When they do, they publish corrections that are often inscrutable, written so painfully to “not repeat the error” that the reader is left wondering what happened. (Here is an example.) Many blogs by ombudsmen and top editors deal with weighty topics such as identification of rape victims, allegations of bias, etc.

Reuters does the opposite. It operates in the world of the small stuff. In each post, the editors show what was wrong and quote the reader’s complaint. Then the editors respond, either acknowledging an error or defending the story. It’s simple but effective, and the blog format allows for faster responses than corrections in print, which typically run a few days after the original story.

For more about corrections, take a look at this column by Ted Vaden, the public editor at The News & Observer.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has started a blog that looks to be similar to what Reuters does.

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