November 13, 2007

Don't Mess Up

"Newspapers are unfair when: [insert common mistake here]"

Sometimes, you just can't win. As Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists outlines, there are a lot of mistakes that can go into newspaper well as a lot of corrections. In newswriting, correcting the error is more important than the error itself; if we don't admit to our problems and mistakes, we have created distrust in our readers, further propelling the negative journalist stereotype that is apparently so common in the public.

"They say they understand that reporters have to work very hard and fast under pressure, and they aknowledge that is not a system likely to produce perfection...but they do not believe this should exempt the newspaper from cleaning up its messes promptly and fully."

(HA! There was even an error in that sentence- can you spot it?) While, as someone going into a journalism-type field, I know first hand how easily errors can occur, I too find myself laughing at the paper when I see simple grammatical or punctuation errors and think "Shouldn't someone catch that? Wanna hire me as a copy editor? I'd find it" (Ok, I just really want a job). However, it's easy to see other people's mistakes. I, God knows, and not free from error myself- a missed comma here, a wrongly spelled word there. Rarely have I ever had any factual information incorrect, but even the little things look bad to the public. Readers expect to read something that is edited correctly and well, free from errors, neveryoumind that they were still editing at 3:00am when the words begin to blur from sleep depervation and too much coffee.

Has the chapters stated, though, it is the responsibility of the newspapers and journalists to acknowledge these mistakes and correct them in a timely manner. However, for everything? Do we really need a section for every incorrect comma splice? The big stuff- sure. The little stuff- I'm sorry that it happened, but I'm probably not going to point it out to the larger public.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at November 13, 2007 11:42 AM | TrackBack

I do not think so either, the big tings-of course, the small things, that nobody hardly notices-no! If you are working under pressure, then you will make mistakes, it's a given. Why is it that details are necessary in correcting ones mistakes?

Posted by: Jeremy Barrick at November 13, 2007 12:30 PM

I agree with you. But when I was younger, I'd go through the paper and make fun of all the times someones name was spelled wrong, or facts in a story weren't right, but who really has the time to count the wrong uses of a comma? I think that if the newspapers own up to their big mistakes the little ones don't matter that much. I think that more people would be upset about a mis-spelled name more than a mis-placed comma...or at least I'd hope so.

Posted by: Chelsea Oliver at November 13, 2007 3:56 PM

We are human after all, and we all make mistakes, big ones and little ones. There's no use getting our panties in a bunch if we acknowlege our mistakes.

Posted by: Carrie Kraszewski at November 13, 2007 6:22 PM

I especially agree with your last idea about the over abundance of corrections. Honestly,as a reader, I'm not even going to notice if you put too many or too little spaces in between words, or if you missed a comma here or there. But I guess it's better to over-correct than under-correct. As a writer, I don't want to get into the habbit of letting little mistakes go, because before I know it, the big mistakes could start getting past me too.

Posted by: Jackie Johns at November 13, 2007 7:47 PM
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