September 27, 2005

Dinged by the Professor

In the current issue of Nieman Reports, Phil Meyer takes me to the woodshed for failing to correct an error in a post I made about his book "The Vanishing Newspaper."

I had Hal Jurgensmeyer's first name wrong (I went with Hans) and Meyer posted a correction in the comments of the post. Then, says Meyer:

"Six months later, near the top of his review, the influence model was still credited to 'Hans' Jurgensmeyer. The correction wasn't even on the same screen. Only readers who made it all the way through Porter's piece and continued to the commentary section could learn Jurgensmeyer's real name. That's ethical?"

Ouch. Sloppy, yes, at times that's me. Unethical, nope. I regret the error, as we used to say at the newspaper, but convicting me, as a representation of unedited bloggers everywhere, of unethical behavior strikes me as capital punishment for a misdemeanor.

That said, Meyer's larger point - that accountability and credibility are linked - is well taken and all of us who traffic in facts, online and off, should pay better attention.

Later, in the same article, Meyer exclaims: "Just fix the man's name!"


Posted by Tim Porter at September 27, 2005 07:33 PM

Meyer going ballistic over a typo online is more damaging to his credibility than your accidentally forgetting to correct it.

It's like Internet 101 that we don't trash someone's credibility over a single mistake.

Posted by: tom on September 28, 2005 07:33 AM

"In the current issue of Nieman Reports..."

The Summer 2005 issue? that's the latest one they have online, that I could tell. Looked (they're bleeping PDFs - are these Nieman fellows stuck in the 1900s?) at the TOC, but didn't see Meyer's name in it.

Making the correction is good, but the correction was - at least on the corrected page - made silently, so that anyone going there in future (who isn't aware of this page) may wonder if Meyer was hallucinating - can't he see it says 'Hal'? It would be good to explicitly note on that page (or in its comments) that you've fixed it.

Moral of story might be "visit the Comments section, and join in" - since if you don't regularly respond to comments, it's probably very easy to fall into a pattern of not regularly reading them.

Posted by: Anna Haynes on September 28, 2005 11:32 PM

Anna's got a point, so I've re-corrected the original post to show the error and the change.

Sorry about the Nieman Reports link. The foundation publishes its "current" issue with a time lag, presumably to benefit subscribers to the printed edition.


Posted by: Tim on September 29, 2005 08:11 AM
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