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January 5, 2013

Seeing errors of our ways is important

(Continued)

What’s more, while most of the errors were minor, only four corrections eventuated from 130 requests from sources.

That same year, 2007, Clark Hoyt, who was public editor of The New York Times, bemoaned the “ferocious rate” at which his newspaper misspelled names, including “astonishingly and repeatedly, Sulzberger, the name of the family that owns The New York Times.”

I feel the Times should be congratulated for actively pursuing corrections. But if that 2 percent figure about uncorrected mistakes was correct, then those 10 metropolitan papers had a real problem, and so do the rest of us in this business if we think we’re accounting for every boo-boo.

Here at The Daily Star, we are probably running corrections on only a small fraction of what we’ve erred upon, but not through lack of effort. I don’t know of any instances in which we have been informed that we made a factual error and didn’t run a correction.

Most of the corrections and clarifications we ran concerned wrong dates for events or misspelled names, with the fault split fairly evenly among incorrect information provided to us, writers’ errors and those made by editors and copy editors.

A couple, in particular, stand out.

On July 14, we ran a correction about a picture on Page 1 the previous day of some cows to go along with a story about dairy farming. The trouble was — as several readers here in dairy country pointed out — the photo was of a herd of beef cows.

On Dec. 7, our correction referred to an article on Page 2 the day before that said the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was in Cooperstown. Now, Cooperstown has a wonderful hall of fame, but it’s a shrine to baseball, not music. The Rock and Roll hall is in Cleveland.

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