Saturday, March 04, 2006

Error-free CJOnline?

In Police official cites lack of accountability (Published Friday, March 3, 2006) as it appears currently on CJOnline, the 16th graf reads as follows:

"Human relations commissioner Georgia Shannon suggested Topeka could face major problems if it didn't do something about race-related issues. She asked Herman if police were prepared for a riot."


Yet today, the following appears near the bottom of the left column of page 5A of the print edition:

"Topeka human relations commissioner Georgia Shannon suggested at a meeting Thursday that Topeka could face major problems if it didn't do something about race-related issues and asked Topeka police Maj. Gary Herman if police were prepared for a riot. Friday's Capital-Journal incorrectly reported the identity of the human relations commissioner who made the statement and asked that question."


It's clear what happened here. Rather than publish the correction on-line, on Saturday as was done in print, the on-line version of the story was just quietly, retroactively altered to reflect the correction with no acknowledgement of the error.

This is policy at CJOnline. This is how it is always done. And--it--is--wrong.

Unlike print, the Web provides the technology to perform the correction in this manner. This action however, diminishes the stature Web as a medium. The refusal to exploit the malleability of the medium in this fashion would lend credibility to the reliability of the content CJOnline provides. By attemting to create the false and ridiculous appearance of flawlessness it sends a signal that the site can't be trusted. If I post a link here, will it say what it said when I posted it, when you read it?

The Web also provides an opportunity to handle corrections on-line differently than in print that would actually give the Web publication an edge in this area. In addition to posting corrections online as short content items just as they are published in print, the correction can be added as an addendum to the story itself, without altering the original text of the story as published.

An old copy of the print edition will always contain the error with no pointer to the correction that came after. Future readers of the story online could have the benefit of the correction and the confidence that the paper isn't burying it's mistakes and hiding from them.

My recommendation is that CJOnline choose a location on the Web site where one may consistantly find any corrections and also amend the corrected story with an editor's note above the story along the lines of this:

Editor's note: Paragraph 16 in the article below contains an error and should have read, "Human relations commissioner Georgia Shannon suggested Topeka could face major problems if it didn't do something about race-related issues. She asked Herman if police were prepared for a riot." (correction dated March 4, 2006)


The appearance of perfection is incredible. Credibility extends from accountability.

-30-

1 Comments:

Blogger Lyn said...

You're in this week's Kansas Blogger's Roundup. But I'm looking for blogs to host upcoming carnivals. Please let me know if you're interested. Thanks. Lyn from Bloggin' Outloud (now on hiatus from blogging)

5:44 PM  

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