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.