Friday, 06 Nov 2015


The Story of an Error

Everyone makes mistakes.

In any healthy organization, people are supposed to check other people’s work; therefore, the reporter who makes an error, and the editor who approves the story, and the layout person who puts the story on the page, and the copyeditor whose job it is to catch such things, and the editor-in-chief who approves the publication all have a share of the responsibility for the mistake.

Yes, the reporter should have double-checked the spelling of that name, or the source of that statistic. However,¬†sometimes, the reporter gets it right, and someone else along the line adds an error. When someone notices an error in a published paper, rather than getting defensive or pointing the finger,¬†a healthy response is to explore the whole system, and find out why the error slipped through. Was the article submitted after the deadline, so that there wasn’t enough time to check it? In that case, even though the editors are probably upset at the reporter who not only missed the deadline but also turned in an article with an error, the editor who chose to publish the story anyway shares part of the blame. (Maybe the editor should have told the reporter, “This story came in late, so we can’t run it.”)

So, the take-home message:

  • If someone points out an error in your story, be grateful.
  • If you spot an error in someone else’s story, be gracious.

Read and reflect on this story of an error in a news story about SHU’s iPad program.