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To Err Is Human

Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 1:24 PM

To correct is divine.

By Denise Gable

Mistakes are inevitable -- especially when facing the pressures of tight deadlines. It's not easy to admit publicly that you've printed a mistake, but for many editors it's a necessary part of business.

Country Business Magazine, country-magazine.com
Frequency: 7 issues/year
Description: Country Business is a specialty retailer publication featuring expert advice, new products, top trends, and more. Available only to qualified retailers, Country Business serves today's independent gift retailers.

Susan Wagner, editor, "If the error was minor and only up for a short time, we would fix it immediately but not make any comment. If the error was major, such as a wrong name, incorrect data, etc., we would fix it immediately and make an editor's note stating the new corrected info. If the error was minor but had been up for awhile, we would correct it and include an editor's note about the correction."

S.T.I.L.L. Magazine, Mack Buckley
Frequency: Blog format, continuous
Description: S.T.I.L.L. Magazine is an online hip hop music magazine, published in blog format. The magazine strives to inspire ordinary people to become "living legends".

Mack Buckley, editor-in-chief, "Our policy is simply to change the error (if it is grammatical in nature). Of course, we try not to publish any errors or facts that are untrue. In the event that we do find that some information is not in fact true, our policy is to contact the person(s) interviewed to confirm whether or not the information is correct. In the event information was passed along that was not factual, we will correct the error and add a notation in the article. That is pretty much all you can do! Online publications do have that distinct advantage over print -- we have the power to correct after publication, whereas print publications do not."

Attribute Magazine, attributemagazine.com
Description: An independent Internet publication that publishes digital editions targeting like-minded, optimistic individuals.

Stacey Louiso, founding editor, "Being (only) online we normally just go in and correct any inaccuracy we come across or that is pointed out by others. We don't really have the space to say, 'Oops, we made a mistake.' Our articles are edited fully and that includes fact checking -- but we all know how pliable facts are these days."

Lake Chelan Mirror, Prairie Media, Inc.
Frequency: Weekly
Description: Weekly newspaper for Lake Chelan and its surrounding communities.

Les Bowen, editor, "Corrections and clarifications are considered on a case-by-case basis. In most cases, updates with new information are simply added to stories and an editor's note generally will state an update was made. Corrections (like incorrect names or factual errors) are updated, but we add an editor's note that there were errors. This helps mitigate the results of caching search engines that may have captured the incorrect information.

"In all cases of a correction (both in print and online), we follow the rule of not restating the incorrect information. So an appropriate editor's note would be: 'John Doe was misidentified in an earlier posting of this story.' A statement like 'John Doe was incorrectly identified as John Jones' would be inappropriate. By removing the error and only posting correct information, we prevent the further propagation of the error. We recognize that an error was made and provide enough specific information that readers can tell what information was corrected without restating the error."

True West Magazine, True West Publishing
Frequency: 10 issues/year
Description: The world's oldest continuously published Western Americana publication.

Meghan Saar, managing editor, "Since 1953, True West Magazine's editors have always appreciated the feedback we receive from our readers, especially those who help us improve on our coverage. At times, an article may need to be corrected, and you can submit those corrections to editor [at] twmag [dot] com. Articles on TWMAG.com are usually corrected the same day that corrections are submitted, and if not, the correction will be posted online as soon as possible. We also encourage readers to share their opinions and thoughts about our coverage by posting their comments with the article on TWMAG.com. That way, the conversation continues, not only with the True West editors, but also with other readers. We want our website to be a comfortable home for Western enthusiasts to engage with us and with each other."

JavaScript and Groovy magazines, Michael Kimsal
Frequency: Monthly
Description: GroovyMag covers a wide variety of topics in the Groovy and Grails world, featuring some of the best and brightest names in the Groovosphere. JSMag aims to publish quality JavaScript content to educate, motivate and inspire JavaScript programmers.

Michael Kimsal, editor-in-chief, "Our stories go out in PDF form, and we don't typically fix every little thing. Usually any typos are found before launch, or sometimes a day or two after. We'll typically do one 'fix' change. Anyone who's already downloaded the PDF can do so again, and we'll Twitter out that there's an update. Beyond that, the PDF will include an 'errata' file (in a zipped download file) that will alert people to any moderate changes."

H.H.H. Magazine, HHH Entertainment, LLC
Frequency: Monthly
Description: H.H.H is the "New Generation of HipHop". The magazine showcases local artists, fashion designers, and DJs in order to help build fan bases.

Lisa Marie, CEO and editor-in-chief, "I like to say that we differ from most publications -- the articles that we post are controlled 100% by the artists and/or their representatives. If there is an error in something that we have made, I immediately go in to correct it once I am made aware of it."

The Wolf Magazine, Loyola University of New Orleans
Frequency: 3 issues/year
Description: Student magazine of Loyola University of New Orleans.

Jessica Williams, editor-in-chief, "In print, we would usually run the correction in our next issue. But still, once it's in print, it's there. Forever. The great thing about an online newsroom is you can always go back and change your mistakes. If the mistake was minor, such as a misspelling or a grammatical error, we would change it as soon as possible without further comment. But if it was major, such as an incorrect fact, we would change it, then highlight at the bottom of the story what was changed and why. If something was believed true at the time of posting, but new facts show that it isn't, we run an entirely new story as breaking news, and state in the new article that in the previous article such-and-such facts were incorrect. We then take the old article off of the site."

Denise Gable is managing editor of Editors Only.

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