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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

MediaBugs Report: Bay Area Online News Outlets Weak on Corrections

Posted By on Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 3:01 PM

click to enlarge 591px_mistake.svg.png
It's no secret that newspapers have a long tradition of deception and obfuscation when it comes to correcting their own errors. From shifty corrections disguised as "clarifications" to that hallowed method of error non-correction known as the "rowback," reporters and editors have always made it difficult for their readers to judge what they got wrong, and how wrong they got it -- when they acknowledge the errors at all.

Against this backdrop, the advent of a

corrections-devoted website, MediaBugs, is a welcome development.

MediaBugs tracks questionable journalistic practices and errors at Bay

Area-based news outlets -- radio, television, print, and online. Now the

site has issued a

report, "Hard to Get a Fix," concluding that the websites of all

these media are sorely lacking when it comes to publishing

corrections and corrections policies.

click to enlarge the_corrections.jpg
Among the findings: "The websites for 17 of the 28 news organizations examined have no corrections policy or substantive corrections content at all." Additionally, MediaBugs found that 21 of the 28 news outlets surveyed provide no link on their home pages to a comprehensive list of corrections. (As the report notes, SF Weekly is among the news organizations whose sites don't offer corrections links in our stories and on our home page, although readers are free to point out errors in articles' comments sections.)

The report asserts that "the websites of most news organizations in the Bay Area are falling down on the most basic of news-media jobs: They make it difficult for the public to report mistakes in the news and track published corrections." MediaBugs also has a summary of its own "best practices" in correcting errors and maintaining records of those corrections.

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Peter Jamison


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