Report my errors, see my revisions - transparency in journalism

“The journalism industry ships lemons every day. Our newsrooms have a massive quality control problem. According to the best counts we have, more than half of stories contain mistakes — and only 3 percent of those errors are ever fixed.” – Scott Rosenberg (Bio) opening his recent post ‘How Newsrooms Can Win Back Their Reputations‘ on PBS Mediashift

More than half of media stories contain errors? It’s not the Internet that’s killing journalism – it’s journalism. It’s not the errors that are the primary problem. The failure to correct the public record is why the public holds my profession near the same level of disdain as they do politicians.  I make mistakes, I’m human. I work to not repeat my errors and, more importantly, I strive to correct any damage done by my errors.

I’m asking for your help.

Have you seen an error on my site? Do you want to help correct it?

I invite you to “report my error” when you see one and thank you for assisting by doing so.

(Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if one is found in this post?)

The MediaBugs plugin for WordPress – Report my errors

The “report my error” button is at the end of each of my posts. Clicking it will “pop-up” a dialogue window with a range of options for categorizing the error:

It’s simple and the error is tracked on http://mediabugs.org to improve transparency. The increased transparency ensures that I reaction in a timely fashion to investigate and correct the error.

WordPress Plugin: Post Revision Display

To make my corrections more transparent, I’ve installed “Post Revision Display” on my website. Below the report an error widget is a listing of all earlier versions of the article. Click on the earlier version to review changes. You’ll note that I often reword sentences, correct spelling and grammatical errors, and add information to my stories. When I correct an article, it’s visible in the history. Revision history is one of my favourite features of Wikipedia, I’m glad to finally be able to do it on my personal website.

Corrections page

My next step is creating a corrections page to catalog all my errors and to further my transparency. I will also note when I make errors on Twitter. Twitter is a more challenging platform for managing corrections. I cannot modify previous tweets and risk the incorrect information being spread by retweets. My previous policy of posting a CORRECTION tweet and not deleting the incorrect tweet did not reflect the evolution of Twitter from when I joined three years ago.

When I started using Twitter, the third-party client was almost unheard of. Most of my “followers” would visit my Twitter page or only be following a handful of accounts. Readers would see the correction in proximity to the error.

Now, few people use Twitter.com – they use third-party clients and follow hundreds or thousands of accounts. It is unlikely they will find my error below a correction. It is for this reason that I now delete incorrect tweets with a correction noted in my feed.

Creating a page on my personal website will ensure that I’m not sweeping errors under the carpet and that a proper record is kept.

Grammatical errors, spelling and missing words – my learning disability contributes

I struggle with a learning disability – Dysgraphia. It is the reason that I make many grammatical and spelling errors. It’s also why words are often missing – at random – in the first few hours following the publication of my articles. Reading my work, I “see” the word in the sentence. It’s missing but my mind remembers that I “said” it when writing and automatically places it in the sentence.

There’s a certain irony to my success writing for two of Canada’s top national media outlets while having great difficulty with the written form.

I’m glad for any assistance people give by noting these errors – I strive to correct them. I share the information about my learning disability as I gives context into these errors.

I thank you for supporting my journalism by reading this website.