Citizens Help Correct Errors in Newspapers

Story by Elysia Yuen
The role of common people in finding and correcting errors in newspaper writing is essential to provide accurate information for the public.
This theme was discussed by Matt Canham, Salt Lake Tribune Washington correspondent; Susan Tolchin, professor at George Mason University; and John Daley, reporter for the Deseret News and KSL at an academic forum.
Meeting on Oct. 29, 2011, at the University of Utah, the event was open to students. The title of the panel was “Political Reporting and the Fourth Estate: Who Watches Government.”
A high point interest for the panelists was regarding the discernment of correct information and citizen involvement in media avenues. A plethora of resources are available where one can get information, like Facebook, blogs, friends and newspapers.
Canham said, “I would hope that when you read the news page you would know where the information is coming from.”
With so much information, it is sometimes hard to understand and know which sources are credible.
Canham explained that journalists are currently working in a fast-paced and demanding environment. They are liable to making mistakes. In newspapers there are sections that correct any mistakes that have been discovered from previous issues. How are these mistakes found?
“The audience is the biggest fact checker out there,” said Daley, a specialist in political and investigative news.
Often people will notice a mistake in the media and send corrections to the newspaper agency.
“[When a correction is sent in] we review what they tell us with what we wrote and judge based on the error (or lack thereof) whether to do a correction or not,” stated Brandon Beifuss, editor-in-chief of The Daily Utah Chronicle.
Because the corrections are so important for accurate news reporting, Canham said that every person should be engaged in citizen journalism.
“It is your responsibility as a media consumer to point that [corrections] out,” Canham said.
The panelists said that they felt a degree of pressure to get their facts straight. With the understanding that reporting has changed dramatically in the past several years, with the emergence of new media and ample information resources, journalists feel immense strain. Articles are needed to be written faster and better.
Daley reiterated the anxiety comes from the need of people wanting information at their fingertips.
He also said, “There are fewer people to cover everyday stories, fewer people to dig into stories that need investigating.”
Canham expressed that a positive attribute of the fast-paced environment is that it is relatively easy to fix a mistake. Especially with the age of digital, one can go online and change it instantly.
Nenad Cuk, a mass communication student who attended the forum realized, “I need to be more critical where I get my information from and analyze the information and the sources they use to get the information.”
Junran Jia thought the forum was valuable information.
“I think it is very good because each one gave their own opinion between mass communications,” Jia said.

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