Got Bugs?

November 11, 2010 • Ethics and Quality • by

MediaBugs releases first survey of U.S. media correction policies.

MediaBugs – an online service providing the public with tools to reports errors in media coverage – takes a look at the websites of 40 major U.S. newsrooms, including those of five leading cable TV news networks and the websites of 12 prominent news magazines.

Defining a media bug as “a correctible error or problem in a news story or media report,” the group set out to understand how news organizations manage such issues. Unfortunately, rather than mashing them into the carpet and apologizing for the faux pas as civilized folk do, most newsrooms prefer to quietly shove vermin under the rug and move along. Unless of course you’re Fox News, in which case you’re simply a pillar of asepsis, thus no need to trouble with amends.

Of the 35 newspaper websites examined, 25 provide no link to a corrections page or archive of corrections. Only 17 of the 35 offer information about error policies. Sixty percent of the newspaper sites (21 of 35) provide a direct medium (email, phone, or Web form) for the public to report an error to the newsroom. Yet in most cases such information was buried within website mazery.

On the (somewhat) brighter side, the five cable news networks performed better. MSNBC, CNBC and ESPN provide more thorough corrections content, while CNN has an email form for reporting errors, but no corrections page or policy. Fox News, as mentioned, does not commit errors and therefore requires no corrections policy whatsoever, as one would simply clutter the homepage, drawing eyes away from important features.

The segment of the survey dealing with leading news and culture magazines yielded similarly bleak results. Of the 12 websites examined, only one (Wired) provided a corrections link, while none of the 12 offered a corrections policy. Only Rolling Stone provided an email address for reporting an error to the publication.

Mediabugs reasons that remedying the issue of media corrections isn’t terribly complicated. For their recommended best practices on errors, see here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Send this to a friend