StateImpact is a project that sheds light on and breaks news about the impact of policy decisions on people’s lives. We aim to tell those stories in a way that holds government accountable and arms listeners and readers with the kind of news that leads to a better-informed society.
With this comes the responsibility to also hold ourselves accountable–for errors, and for correcting them in a way that is transparent to our audience.
We recommend that stations have a plan to identify errors and to make corrections, both on-air and online. Below are some of our guidelines for StateImpact sites.
Receiving and Researching Corrections
- The StateImpact digital reporter is responsible for reading incoming email and comments on the StateImpact website. Each station should also designate a staff member to read email and snail-mail that comes to the station outside the context of the StateImpact site.
- An editor or news director should be responsible for fielding listener and site user claims about errors. He/she should immediately fact-check the claim.
- If an error has been made, the editor or news director should consult with the reporter(s) to craft a correction. If there is a dispute about whether a statement actually contained an error, the program director should adjudicate.
- Once a correction has been crafted, the digital reporter should add it to the StateImpact site, within the blog post in which the error occurred. The correction should be formatted as an italicized note at the top of the post that begins with “Correction:” before stating what was wrong with the original text. In addition, correct the error in the body of the post. Do not use strikeout text to indicate the change. Transcripts of broadcast pieces, if posted, should also include the correction as an italicized note at the top of the transcript.
- Posts that have been corrected on the StateImpact site should be tagged as corrections so they can also appear under a “Corrections and Clarifications” tag/topic page on the site. (See the toolbox post on your corrections page buildout.)
- There will be cases in which an error is significant enough to warrant its own post as well as a note in the header of the original post. This is particularly necessary if the error occurred weeks ago and few people are likely to see a correction in the original post. It’s the responsibility of the station news director in consultation with the program director to determine if the error warrants its own post.
- Significant errors in broadcast stories should be corrected on-air. The correction should be made in the program in which the story aired. Corrections can be part of a letters segment or on their own. It’s the responsibility of the station news director in consultation with the program director to determine when a correction needs to be broadcast, in addition to being posted online.
- Clarifications are encouraged in cases where a fact or reference isn’t technically incorrect but could be misconstrued. Clarifications should follow the same review and posting process as corrections. The clarification should be formatted as an italicized note at the top of the post that begins with “Clarification: …”