New York Times to launch online corrections form

The New York Times will soon launch an online corrections form to make it easier for readers to report an error.

Greg Brock, the Times editor who oversees corrections, shared the information with Journalism.co.uk when he was interviewed for a recent podcast about handling online corrections. (I was also part of that podcast.)

The paper is launching the form because it “want[s] to make it as easy as possible for every reader to report an error, or comment on an article if they want to,” Brock told Journalism.co.uk’s Rachel McAthy. When I contacted Brock, he said he couldn’t yet reveal the exact launch date.

Not many news organizations use corrections forms, but they should. The Washington Post launched a form in 2011 to make it easier to identify and respond to mistakes. Some of the Journal Register Company’s papers have a form in place, as do the Chicago Tribune and Toronto Star, to name a few.

Brock told McAthy that the form will be added to the paper’s online corrections page, which was redesigned in 2011. One goal, he said, is to give readers a place to easily report an error, rather than having them email them or note mistakes in comments on stories.

It’s not clear if the Times will also link the corrections form to its online content. The Washington Post, Huffington Post and Toronto Star all include a link on story pages that invites readers to report an error.

For example, a Post story includes this:

Recently, the Post’s corrections form morphed into a general contact form, rather than being corrections-specific. Greg Linch, a Post producer who worked on the original form, said in an email that the change happened a few weeks ago and that the new form is linked to a customer service management tool.

The Journal Register Company continues to use the form on content. I checked in with Matt DeRienzo, group editor of Journal Register Company’s publications in Connecticut, last year and he said placing the form on each story delivered good results.

“When we first launched the fact check box, it  [was on our] homepages and we moved it fairly early on to have it at the end of every single story,” he said.

Placing it at the foot of every story resulted in a “big increase” in submissions, he said.

 

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  • Clayton Burns

    What is a correction?

    The NYT is far better at considering reader comment, in the main, than the arrogant New Yorker.

    Far better. The NYT Public Editor, an office which must handle huge volume, is considerate and thoughtful. Some of the reader’s representatives–at The Guardian or The Washington Post–are neurotic and narrow-minded.

    If we were to look back over The NYT for the last year or so, we would see some dropped files. You might say that these are not subjects for a correction, but I “beg to differ.”

    Because IB teachers and NYU professors may uncritically advise students to write essays in the present, and because I teach a formal sixty-verb-element system of the past, I was stunned to see the reference in The NYT to how “The Hunger Games” was written in the “present.” There is a lot of historical present in the first novel, but also we find good flashbacks with sensitive past tenses. It is the texture of present and past that makes “The Hunger Games” a subtle read, as opposed to the inferior film with its crude handling of time and tense.

    If we fall into a relentless presentism, we may shed counterfactuals and the deep resources of the perfect tenses and perfect nonfinites. It is therefore ignorant to advise students to write habitually in the present.

    The NYT does not respond to e-mail on this issue. That is a profound lapse in understanding.

    A major review of “Zero Dark Thirty” was irrational and incoherent to the point that I sent in a major analysis to the Public Editor. Finally, I think that the office grasped the point, but there were no corrections that I have seen.

    What is a correction? If we see a correction as being merely narrowly fact-based, a name with the wrong spelling, we miss the potential of readjustments and revisions.