Sunday, August 1, 2010

New website devoted to correcting errors

MediaBugs, a new website devoted to "correcting errors and problems in media coverage in the San Francisco Bay Area, says that 21 of the 28 news sites it examined provide no corrections link on their websites' home pages and article pages. The websites for 17 of the 28 news organizations examined have no corrections policy or substantive corrections content at all, MediaBugs said in a report titled "Hard to get a fix, the state of corrections in Bay Area news media."
    In many cases, news organizations that publish both in print and on the Web handle the corrections process much more effectively in print than online. We attribute this to the relative immaturity of online publishing; print has simply had more time to develop better error-correction policies and practices. Our survey concentrates on the online realm because it represents the likely future of news delivery -- and right now correction-handling there is in such worse shape.
MediaBugs checked the sites of the Examiner, Chronicle/, Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, Marin Independent Journal, Wall Street Journal (SF section), Bay Citizen, New York Times (Bay Area Report), SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, East Bay Express, SF Business Times, Mother Jones, Wired, SF Public Press, Salon, SF Appeal, OaklandLocal, CNET News, KTVU, KRON, KPIX, KGO-TV, KNTV, KQED-FM, KALW-FM and KCBS Radio.

The project director is Scott Rosenberg (pictured), author of "Say Everything, Dreaming in Code," a co-founder and writer at and an 11-year veteran of the Examiner. Associate Director Mark Follman was a news editor at Salon and contributed to Rolling Stone and Mother Jones. The MediaBugs website lists as advisers Lane Becker, Bill Gannon, Dan Gillmor and Craig Silverman.

The project is funded by a $335,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge, a contest to support innovative digital media projects. Here's how the Knight News Challenge website describes the MediaBugs project:
    All journalists make mistakes, but they sometimes view admitting errors as a mark of shame. MediaBugs aims to change this climate, by promoting transparency and providing recognition for those who admit and fix their mistakes. 
    MediaBugs will create a public test web site in a U.S. city for people to report errors in any news report – online or off-line. 
    Comments will be tracked to see if they create a conversation between the reporter and the error submitter, and then show whether corrections or changes resulted. Based on a system that technology teams use when releasing software, this aggregation process will display trends in errors and show which news organizations are responsible to public questions and comments.

MediaBugs appears to have started in the past few months. The first post on a blog associated with the site (titled "Gentle people: on your mark, get set, report bugs!") is dated March 24. The first errors the site's personnel "helped get corrected" were in May, when it was still in its beta phase. (Photo credit:

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