Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why start a site to encourage corrections?

After we posted the item below about the creation of the MediaBugs site, we reached creator Scott Rosenberg via e-mail and asked him a few questions.

1. Was there any error or incident that prompted the creation of MediaBugs?
    It was really inspired by my work as managing editor of Salon.com, where I fielded error reports from our readers. I began to think we were doing it inefficiently: I was responding by e-mail individually to readers when what I really wanted to do was post our explanations in public, but we didn't have a mechanism to do that. 
    I was working on a book about software development at the time and became familiar with the public bug-trackers that open-source programmers use on their projects. 
    I thought it might make a useful model for the newsroom, so we could track problems and also better communicate how we were handling issues readers raised. I never implemented the idea at Salon but it stayed with me and I dusted it off, revised it and proposed it to the Knight News Challenge.

2. How will your site differ from "Regret the Error"?
    Regret the Error is great -- its creator, Craig Silverman, has been one of our advisers at MediaBugs -- but it's primarily made up of reporting about corrections and the issues surrounding corrections. MediaBugs is conceived as a pragmatic solution to a problem -- we hope to demonstrate a new model for improving the feedback loop between the newsroom and the public. So we're more of a hands-on, functioning service rather than a site that covers issues.

3. When the $335,000 in Knight News Challenge money runs out, how will MediaBugs sustain itself?
    We'll either continue the site on a volunteer basis or raise more money if we can. The costs are heaviest in the initial phase of the project (software development and community outreach); running the service isn't as expensive, and if we prove our value I'm confident we can keep it going.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Odds are Rosenberg ain't about to detail the error his Salon cohort Joan Walsh made on Chris Matthew's Hardball. They had to retape the show to bury the guarantee she made to Matthews about contents of the Sherrod tape. Matthews played the tape for her and she still insisted she was right. Oops!

Anonymous said...

Seems like a good way to keep the chronicle honest.