We're terribly sorry for the mistakes, but we'll be sure to keep your complaints anonymous

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I never truly realised that having so many grammatical and seemingly commonsense errors encouraged a loss of credibility for newspapers. I know that when I read the newspaper occasionally, that I just smile and shake my head at a mistake in print. Then again, I'm now a somewhat educated journalism student who still has a lot left to learn, but that also means that I have more knowledge than the average person. If someone reads the newspaper everyday, it's almost a gaurantee that they will find mistakes. Newspapers are printed, written, put-together, and edited by people. And these people are only human. One sentence included in the Best Practices book that was said by a public individual was, “I know that they are human and make mistakes just like I do, but why aren’t they willing to admit it and say they’re sorry when they do?” Well, I can't help but wonder what a newspaper can do. They could print a retraction or try and fit in a little box that says that they were sorry or something, but the public can't judge all newspapers by the same standards. Every newspaper has a different editor, several more than likely. Wouldn't it be up to the editors of a paper to apoligize for an error? I think that giving an apology is a wise move, especially if the error was easily seen, like The Office of Pubic Information!

It's also probable a good idea to publish the corrections in the same place within every issue. It wouldn't be as complicated as hunting for it everyday when you're reading the paper. Then again, this might create a bit more tension in the layout gremlins. Perhaps if newspapers start putting a larger emphasis on correcting the mistakes that have been, then the public will have more faith in the newspaper and reporters as a whole. I can't talk for the National Enquirer though, that might (as well it should) always be suspect. It'll take work to be sure, but if reporters can't get across their accurate information and the public is unable to trust it, then what use have we for reporters?

“It’s like a bullet that comes out of the woods and hits somebody in the back and you have no idea who shot it or why.” Some people may feel this way about anonymous sources, but what about the sources themselves? We've covered the topic of whether or not to print a victim's name, but not sources overly much. I can understand where the public opinion is coming from, yet if a source was ratting out the mafia or in the Witness Protection Program, then it would be really bad to give out their name wouldn't it? It'd be kinda like pointing a metaphorical finger at the Tattle Tale. Thus, I think the very first guideline in the book on page 22, "No anonymous sources unless a top editor is convinced there is absolutely no other way to get the main thrust of the story into the newspaper," is a good rule to follow. Don't use an anonymous source unless you have to and you won't hit any of the wayward in the back with a bullet and you'll save yourself the hassle.

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3 Comments

Jackie Johns said:

Although I think its natural that readers would begin to question the credibility of a newspaper after seeing even minute mistakes, I also agree with you - that people should keep in mind that every newspaper is different. In this way, I guess its best to say people should avoid generalizing and making assumptions: just because one newspaper has one too many errors, doesn't mean they should abandon their trust in the entire print journalism genre.

Shannon Moskal said:

I understand the fact that everybody up the journalism tree is in a time crunch and makes mistakes, but it's the editors' damn job and I'm sorry, but if that's what they get paid to do, then there should be a lot less mistakes in the papers. As far as anonymous sources, if it wasn't a guideline then the paper would be nothing but anonymous sources. Why would anyone bother wasting time with sources who won't reveal their names anyway.

Shannon Moskal said:

I understand the fact that everybody up the journalism tree is in a time crunch and makes mistakes, but it's the editors' damn job and I'm sorry, but if that's what they get paid to do, then there should be a lot less mistakes in the papers. As far as anonymous sources, if it wasn't a guideline then the paper would be nothing but anonymous sources. Why would anyone bother wasting time with sources who won't reveal their names anyway.

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This page contains a single entry by MadelynGillespie published on November 13, 2007 4:07 PM.

We're terribly sorry for the mistakes, but we'll be sure to keep your complaints anonymous was the previous entry in this blog.

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