NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard Pushes for Report an Error Button

NPR ombudsman Alicia Shepard pushed for a Report an Error button from the Report an Error Alliance to be added to NPR.org in a long, well-thought-out blog post. Highlights follow:

One of the surest ways for a news organization to keep and gain credibility is to have an easy-to-use mechanism for reporting mistakes and a quick process for correcting them.

It’s inevitable that even the best, most thorough news organizations will make mistakes. The question is how they handle them. (Most do so poorly.)

Today, as more people get much — if not most– of their news online, there needs to be a common agreed-upon standard for reporting and correcting errors.

Two journalists who care very much about this issue launched an initiative last week to get news organizations — big and small — to come up with a standard on how to make it easier to report mistakes.

Craig Silverman of Regret the Error and Scott Rosenberg of MediaBugs started the Report an Error Alliance.

The pair wants NPR and other news organizations to place a button at the top of each story page for reporting mistakes. A reader could report the error, and continue reading without having to hunt down how to make a correction.

The Report an Error idea shouldn’t be a huge technological challenge for NPR, which already has buttons on its Web site for readers to print, e-mail or share a story.

There’s no doubt that making it easier to report errors will mean many more requests for corrections and dealing with them will be a hassle.

But to further demonstrate its commitment to journalistic accuracy, I believe NPR should join the Report an Error the Alliance and put that little button on every Web page.

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