News Organizations Must Fess Up To Errors

Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine wrote:

Henceforth, when I correct a post or make a correction in a subsequent post, I will add a “correction” tag. I’d love to see that become standard operating procedure in blogs — and newspapers.

Right on, Jeff! Being a marketing guy in the corporate world, I can tell you the problem with most news “correction” sections – especially in print – is that they’re a complete joke. Readers don’t pay attention to them; they’re usually way too little way too late. I always ensure corrections are made in the digital databases, including the Internet and proprietary networks, such as Bloomberg or Nexis. The first wave of damage occurs when the news is fresh and the facts are wrong; there’s often little that can be done. The second potential wave of damage occurs when people are researching your company and discover factually incorrect information. We can alleviate that by correcting the indexes, the permalinks.

Considering the issue of editorial mistakes and corrections, I thought AdAge made a classy move today when it emailed me this blunt correction:

SUBJECT: Audit Bureau Story Headline Retraction

Audit Bureau Story Headline Retraction

April 19, 2006

NEW YORK ( — An early morning version of today’s Ad Age story about a software developer’s lawsuit carried a headline that said the Audit Bureau of Circulations has been "Charged With Fraud." This headline was in error and has been corrected. The ABC is the subject of allegations made by a plaintiff in a lawsuit but has not been formally charged with any crime by any law enforcement agency. Ad Age apologizes for this error. The corrected headline and original story may be seen at:

Audit Bureau of Circulations Hit With Fraud Lawsuit

Software Developer Alleges ABC Was Part of Circulation-Inflation Scheme

When news organizations aggressively push out corrections beyond the corrections page – like AdAge did – they build credibility and good will with readers and other stakeholders by acknowledging mistakes. Today, AdAge scored points with me, the reader. AdAge also scored points with me, the marketing guy, who is a gateway into my company. That’s important because my company is said to be a rising player in the industry AdAge covers. It’s good to have a mutually beneficial relationship between the news organization and the people and companies it serves.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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