Journalism and Corrections: The Importance of Knowing When You’re Wrong
Recently, I had to make a significant correction on a Facebook post made on my personal profile. It wasn’t a column, but it was something that had to be swiftly addressed and resolved in any event. I formally apologized to the individual who was haphazardly mentioned in my post. I could’ve easily made my point without invoking their name and raising implications about their political opinions. This person also happens to be a personal friend.
Out of respect for them, I’m not going to re-litigate what the original post was about.
In a journalistic capacity, making mistakes aren’t good. In addition to negatively impacting a reporter’s personal and professional credibility, mistakes can have far-reaching ramifications for those who bear the brunt of them. Even if your mistake is a typo or some oversight that may seem insignificant at first glance, words matter and words have consequences. The only ethical option would be to address the mistake, make the correction, learn from it and become more adapt at making fewer mistakes. The best way to offset the damage done is to take these mistakes on before they fester and become a perilous situation.
The irony of this message is not lost on me.
I wrote a book about an organization and a group of people who not only have made a lot of mistakes, they knowingly published material falsehoods oftentimes at the expense of their political enemies. Even though I published my book and more people recognize their pattern of deceit, they still commit to the very same practices that led them to a libel lawsuit they ultimately lost. Their trajectory for professional growth is nonexistent.
But we can certainly learn from their example as a cautionary tale.
They don’t like to admit to being wrong because it means they have to face down every instance when they got their facts wrong or outright lied to their readers. And because they’ve never bothered to do that forensic analysis of their so-called “reporting” and competently apply a checks and balances on themselves, admitting failure became an insurmountable task that would pose a clear, existential threat to their fragile ego. That’s why it’s so important to review, correct, modify or retract as soon…