However, no reporter, editor or blogger would like to say sorry, if given a choice. But then media ethics demand that all online mistakes be acknowledged, and an apology tendered. The nature of the apology can depend upon the damage caused by the online mistake.
Every good newspaper across the world has been following this tradition. It is another matter that the regret or correction is buried on an inside page. It is not given the same display as the news report.
There have been instances when the news report has been run across multiple columns on the front page but the correction is published as a single paragraph on an inside page.
This is how the traditional media has been handling mistakes. Online media has been a little better, especially bloggers. They take pains to strike out information that is inaccurate, and replace it with correct information.
Since the information is not deleted, but only struck out, a visitor can browse the information that has been struck out and read information that is correct.
Such a strategy helps bloggers to improve their credibility, and build trust.
The traditional media also corrects online mistakes. However, it acknowledges the mistake by running a clarification at the bottom of the report.
Here are two ways to correct online mistakes:
# 1. Acknowledge the online mistakes
The online edition of The Hindu recently published a report on the film ‘Padmavat’. The headline of the report, it seems, wrongly stated that Uttar Pradesh is not governed by BJP.
The Hindu, on realising the error, changed the headline. The corrected headline read:
AT the same time, the newspaper acknowledged its error. It published a clarification at the bottom of the page, which read:
An earlier version of the article’s headline misstated that UP was a non-BJP state. The error has been corrected.
This is a good practice, and The Hindu should be lauded for its honesty.
Similarly, a few years back, the online edition of the Guardian published a story about a Brazilian doctor who was mistakenly referred to as a nurse. The news website acknowledged the mistake by publishing the following note at the end of the report:
This article was amended on 27 March 2013. The original referred to Virginia Soares de Souza as a nurse. She is a doctor.
# 2. Correct the online mistakes but don’t delete the text
This is what good bloggers do. They strike out the text that is wrong, but don’t delete it. All visitors will notice that this is what the blogger had initially written. It’s a great way to acknowledge, and correct your online mistakes.
The media may also consider introducing this practice. It will increase the credibility of online content greatly.