Washington Post schools reporter Emma Brown picked out a correction in today’s paper that she labeled its “best correction ever”:
Best Wash Post correction ever? Yes. pic.twitter.com/fT5G4pC3cc
— emma brown (@emmersbrown) October 23, 2013
It’s a good one, though I’d personally hold off on anointing its greatness. (Hey, I’m picky!) But what’s also interesting is the wording for the print version of the correction is different than the one atop the online version of the story. It’s labeled a “clarification,” and reads:
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Navy Capt. Robert Durand’s physical build. He should have been described as muscular. This version has been corrected.
The big difference is the print correction clearly states the initial, mistaken description of Capt. Durand. The online version leaves you guessing. The question of whether to repeat the error in a correction has long been debated, and I have details here. (I support stating the initial error, as it ensures people understand clearly what was incorrect. Plus, as evidenced above, it leads to funnier corrections….)
What’s notable is publications typically decide to restate the error (as the New York Times does), or to avoid restating it. Then they stick to that style. The Post is doing one thing in print, and the another online.
I’ve emailed Post reader representative Doug Feaver to see if this is an aberration, or if the Post has different style for print and online, and why that might be.