May 25, 2006

Media correctness

I know you wouldn’t believe when I say I’m not rubbing it in on Star of Mysore. But I couldn’t resist posting this entry about Craig Silverman’s E&P Weekly column – Rosenthal’s Legacy: The Corrections. Didn’t know, did you, that the late A M Rosenthal, former NYT exec. editor, standardized the practice of printed corrections issued in newspapers. The Los Angeles Times wrote, "When the newspaper erred, he insisted that it admit its mistakes in a daily Corrections column, which he introduced in 1972. He later added the Editor's Note, which addressed flaws such as errors of omission and lapses in taste and standards."

Rosenthal's successor, Max Frankel, is credited with his own tweak on the correction by insisting on standardizing how they are written. E&P columnist Craig Silverman who is credited with having studied over 100,000 corrections published in newspapers and magazines says 1) corrections don’t work’ and 2) they aren’t the best way to ensure that readers get the correct information.

Because a) very few readers read corrections; b) they can’t be bothered to scan the ‘corrections’ column to see if something they read yesterday or the day before was incorrect; and c) phrasing of corrections do not always offer a clear explanation for the error or adequate clarification of the misleading information.

“Today's corrections are often too brief, too obscure. They read like the hurried work of an editor tasked with an unpleasant chore, or, in the worst examples, they come off as the result of an effort to conceal rather than disclose. The reality is corrections exist more to absolve a publication than inform readers”, says Silverman, who edits Regret the Error, a website reporting on corrections, retractions, clarifications, and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in the media.


Vijendra Rao said...

Capt. Murthy is apprehensive that he is rather scathing in his attacks. GVK is none too comfortable, fearing he is rubbing it in on SoM. I think there is no need to be so sensitive on the issue. Personally, I think, we are only demanding quality as readers. At least in the context of SoM, I must say we are consumers. The very fact that the Editor continues to sit in his ivory tower even as we debate, discuss, and offer suggestions as to what must be done to improve the paper is further proof his contempt for us readers. He knows that some cerebral talk is on here concerning his paper (I wish a day would come when we could say it's our paper). He feels he is not obliged to stop over here and offer his explanation. Or, is it the worse case of the man not being aware of this discussion at all?
Anyway, I have gained immensely from the excellent items to which GVK has been drawing our attention to. If more such items are assured, I won't have complaints about similar gaffes by SoM. Going by his track record, the editor is very unlikely to disappoint us.
(To know why I have such a dismal opinion of the paper in question, please read my latest post - two recycled items that I wrote in response to this guy's slanderous attack on me).

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Just to clarify, I am not apprehensive, it is in my nature to be scathing when something deserves to be rebuked. Regarding the SOM incident, I'd perhaps not written a blog or to SOM voice of the reader, specially rebuking their reporters as to why they did not ask the relevant question etc etc.

Vijendra Rao said...

Apprehensive, not about repercussions of being scathing; apprehensive in the sense that one is not too sure whether one is being too harsh. That's what I meant it, Captain. I know you are gutsy and forthright.
Regarding the excellent piece that GVK has drawn our attention to, well, I have a few things to say, and I will on my media blog a while later.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

You have summed it up correctly in your reply Mr. Rao. I agree with you at the risk of letting others reading this reply think that we belong to a mutual backscratchers club!

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

The latest comments on issues and ideas board somewhat clarifies the report made by Star of Mysore. Mr. Vijendra has put in a comment and has mentioned that SOM in this case stands vindicated. I have put in two comments on my blog as well, one is the comment from Mr. Rao and the other is my reply. The debate continues.

ER Ramachandran said...

I think apart from New York Times and (Washington Post?), The Hindu is the only Paper in India which has an ombudsman and takes pride in correcting mistakes pointed out by the readers. It takes guts and a maturity of high level to achieve that kind of profiency and honesty when you can a) admit your mistake in Print b) Make it a policy of the Paper and more importantly,c) learn from the mistake.

This kind of evolution in NewsPapers is gutsy and hence undersatndably rare more so in our country!

E.R. Ramachandran

Blogging One's Own Trinkets said...

While agreeing with ERRAM with his comments, I must say that more important than courage is decency and civility. The media does not normally own responsibility for its mistakes for the reason that it lacks decency. Decency to treat readers as equals. Then, I think, fear also plays a certain part in not carrying - or carrying out - corrections. Since mistakes occur at embarrasingly regular intervals, media managements are prone to think that publishing corrections only spoils the image of their organisation and therefore might affect the circulation/advertisement revenue.
Fear of another kind played its part in The City Tab, Bangalore, where I began my career two decades ago. One of my seniors was flown to Bombay to preview, what I think was, India's maiden fusion music band. She came back, wrote a review ahead of the band's itinerary in Bangalore. The band manager promptly issued a fiery correction from Bombay. The previewer had mistaken one artiste for another (guitarist for the drummer, if I remember it right). She kept the letter from the editor and dashed off an apology to the complainant who had paid for the expenses of her Bombay trip. The reader, needless to say, was left in the lurch.
One point I wanted to make earlier: Even the odd newspaper that really bothers to issue corrections must know that no elaborate correction can undo the damage it has already caused in the case of its single-time readers. The traveller from another city reads whatever paper that is available at the airport. Seldom does he have choice. If he has been read a piece of wrong information, it is unlikely he will read the same paper on another day, particularly the day on which the correction has been issued.
This drawback applies to sections of readers who are travellers as also to those who have been delivered a wrong paper by the delivery boy, and those who get a complimentary copy of a certain paper.

Anonymous said...

The following relates to your friend Mr Murthy, the small cargo plane pilot! he is afraid of publishing this. Internet is a world information infrastructure with no censorships. If you censor the following, we will publish it in other blogs. We sent a sample to them. We are inundated with more! Mr Murthy has the hbit of getting into the nose of every one. Does he suffer from a complex of some kind?

I agree that all of us have fake identities- you, me and GVK in this world, philosophically speaking. Shakespeare said’ All the world is a stage, And all the men and women merely players’. Sorry, I forgot that you did not go to university.

We have had enough of your pretences, your façade as a ‘Captain’ and the weighted chips on your shoulders. Kris is but one of us a considerable few who watch myMysore lending itself as a propaganda tool for people like you.

As Kris said in her comments (Kris is a she!), you are a hired pilot. Many in Mysore who do not have the money that your parents had to send you to Miami to get trained as a pilot who believe whatever you are dishing out. Nothing wrong in talking about planes, places, Greenland etc… But say that you are a hired pilot. A van driver in the sky.

You see the problem? In all My Mysore blogs (unlike a sister blog which has viewers of all kind, contributors of all kind, and which is growing day by day in terms of its popularity, there are only the usual ‘players, yourself, GVK , a guy called Balmy whatever with a grand title ( he is really barmy!) and one Mr Rao who chimes agreeing everything you dish out.

We traced you contributing in a number of blogs, we checked you in US and we tried to find out what your roots are in Mysore-came up with not much. All we got was that you were a college drop out , wandering in the streets teasing girls and your parents had enough and packed you with cash and sent you to Miami.

Sue us? Go ahead. Let us see what comes out!!