Washington Post corrections procedures lax, Ombud
- "As of the beginning of last week, The Post had a backlog of hundreds of correction requests, a few dating to 2004. In many cases, readers never heard whether The Post had rejected their request, or why. For them, it was like
- sending a correction request into a black hole.
The newspaper's process for handling correction requests has not worked properly. In some instances,
- reporters were never even notified that readers had requested corrections to their stories.
There is little statistical analysis to spot trends in errors or to detect reporters (or editors) with high correction rates. As the saying goes, what gets measured gets fixed.
- Reporters and editors can neglect correction requests with little real consequence.
- Correction rates are not typically raised in performance evaluations....
The Post's top editors are aware of the problem. Since being named one of The Post's two managing editors in mid-January, Raju Narisetti has focused on what he acknowledges is a serious problem.
- "Some of the requests -- whether meriting a correction or not -- have simply fallen through the cracks between reporters and editors and the system we use to track such requests," he says. "And we don't have a system for pushing for closure."
Mistakes are inevitable in daily journalism, and The Post runs plenty of corrections -- roughly
- 960 in 2008. Most appear in a box on Page A2,
but some parts of the paper -- the obituary and editorial pages, for instance -- carry their own corrections....The system has broken down most frequently with The Post's sprawling Metro desk, which covers Maryland, Virginia, the District and obituaries....
- The Post must also figure out how to handle corrections online.
Currently, policies at washingtonpost.com mainly address corrections for print stories that appear on the Web site."...by Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, "A Corrections Process in Need of Correcting" via Poynter.org/Romenesko
- What a surprise. sm
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