But what about when you want to correct it? Isn’t this kind of important? Shouldn’t there be a button for that?
Well, now there is. Today Craig Silverman (of Regret the Error) and I are unveiling a new project called The Report an Error Alliance. Our goal is simple: to promote a new standard to enable error reporting about news content on the Web.
We believe that every page of news content that gets published should provide a Report an Error button — an easy-to-find and easy-to-use tool that readers can use to tell the publishing site that they believe it got something wrong.
We’re not trying to dictate how each site uses these buttons: they can link to a site’s contact form, or provide a simple email link, or use the MediaBugs widget or something like it. That’s up to each news organization or site to choose. What’s important is that the button be handy, right by the story, not buried deep in a sea of footer links or three layers down a page hierarchy.
We’ve got a handful of forward-thinking Web news outfits signed on already — including the Toronto Star, TBD.com, Salon.com, Poynter.org, and NewsTrust.net. We hope to see this roster grow. We also encourage individuals to add their names to our alliance as an indication of your support for this new standard.
Many of you already know about my work on MediaBugs; Report an Error is related but independent of that. It’s meant to be a focused effort toward a simple goal. While the Web has enabled powerful two-way communication between journalists and their publics for a decade-and-a-half, too many news sites still make it hard for you to tell them they made a mistake. Such reports get buried in voice-mail boxes and lost in flame-infested comment threads. Yet journalists still need to hear them, and readers deserve to know that they’ve been heard.
Implementing a “report an error” button isn’t by itself a magic solution to the problem of accuracy and the erosion of confidence in the media. But it’s a good start at repairing the growing rift between the press and the public. It’s like putting a badge on everything you publish that says, “If you see a problem, we really want to know about it!”
UPDATE: You can also read Craig Silverman’s post about the Report an Error Alliance at Regret the Error.