Although I never did find an error, this assignment has made me think about the process of making corrections. I started my search for an error by checking out the local newspaper for my hometown, the Record-Journal of Meriden, Conn.
When I did not find corrections listed anywhere on the Record-Journal website, I reached out to the paper to ask about their correction process and received a response from Dan Brechlin, city editor.
Brechlin explained the Record-Journal’s process to me. Usually a reader will call or email to notify the paper of an error, Brechlin said via email, and then there is a verification process to determine if an error was made. A correction is made both in the print paper, published on the second page, A2, and online.
“A lot of our stories make it online before they ever see print. Stories can change throughout the day and develop throughout the day. Usually something requiring a correction, however, is brought to our attention after the story is printed in the paper,” Brechlin said.
Having stories run online and in print can make things interesting for catching errors. Depending on which story is published first, does one act as a “rough draft” for the other? Are readers aware when each change is happening to these articles online? Does the online story go out first and then develop to match what will eventually be printed in the paper?
“With the internet, people seem to understand stories are constantly changing and being updated and reported on…So if the story can very quickly be updated before print and a name was spelled wrong, people generally don’t want a full correction – just the name spelled right. If a larger error occurred or we made a bigger mistake, I would say it’s worth pointing out in a correction at the bottom of the story how/why the story changed and what the issue was,” Brechlin said. It seems to me like printing a correction in the paper is reserved for larger mistakes, and that the online version is used as an easier way to deal with more minor errors. This could be one way a smaller paper is able to deal with limited print space and resources.
“We have found people often don’t care much about the newspaper correction, they want to see it online though,” Brechlin said. He explains this as a result of readers saving online stories (no more newspaper clippings, I suppose) and wanting the information to be correct.
When compared to the New York Times, which has a separate corrections page, as well as a phone number and email address for readers to submit corrections and links to the original article, the Record-Journal may not be on the same level, but they do have a system in place to deal with the errors that arise, which satisfies their readers.