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Newspapers usually have specific policies for readers to report factual errors. Generally, this involves the reader contacting an editor, pointing out the mistake and providing the correct information. Sometimes, an editor or affected reporter will be asked to refer to a note or press release to determine how the mistake was made.
In print newspapers, a correction notice will often appear in its own column in a subsequent issue.
In online news media, a "trashline" or "advisory line" may be added to the top of a corrected article. According to the Reuters Handbook of Journalism, "the trashline should say exactly why a story is being withdrawn, corrected, refiled or repeated. All trashlines on refiles and corrections must include the word 'corrects' or 'correcting'."
A correction differs from a clarification, which clears up a statement that – while factually correct – may result in a misunderstanding or an unfair assumption.
Corrections can be the result of reporting errors or typographical mistakes, or may happen because the newspaper was provided incorrect information.
Most newspaper errors are relatively minor, sometimes mere typos or atomic typos, and involve one of the following:
- Names – Their name was misspelled, someone was misidentified (e.g., in a photograph), their professional title was incorrect ... the list goes on.
- Figures – Usually, the result of a typographical error, although it can adversely affect a story (e.g., "the lawsuit was for $8 million, not $8 billion").
- Time/date/place – Usually, as for an event (e.g., "the event will be on Friday, not Saturday").
However, some corrections are the result of major mistakes or carelessness in reporting, and in extreme examples involve such things as completely incorrect facts, gross misquotes and extreme misrepresentations. Following are some examples:
From The Guardian, 2004:
In our profile of Daniel Dennett (pages 20 to 23, Review, April 17), we said he was born in Beirut. In fact, he was born in Boston. His father died in 1947, not 1948. He married in 1962, not 1963. The seminar at which Stephen Jay Gould was rigorously questioned by Dennett's students was Dennett's seminar at Tufts, not Gould's at Harvard. Dennett wrote Darwin's Dangerous Idea before, not after, Gould called him a "Darwinian fundamentalist". Only one chapter in the book, not four, is devoted to taking issue with Gould. The list of Dennett's books omitted Elbow Room, 1984, and The Intentional Stance, 1987. The marble sculpture, recollected by a friend, that Dennett was working on in 1963 was not a mother and child. It was a man reading a book.
From the New York Daily News, 2009:
Correction: It has come to the attention of the Daily News that a number of statements in this article written for the Daily News by a freelance reporter are, or may be, false. Cornell University has told us that Shante did not receive any degree from it under either her birth or stage name. We have confirmed that prior to the article, at least four publications on Cornell's own website reported that Shante had earned a Ph.D. from the university. Those references have now been removed. And in response to an inquiry today, Marymount College stated that Shante attended there for less than one semester. Numerous e-mail and telephone inquiries by the freelance reporter to Marymount during the preparation of the article to confirm Shante's account were not responded to. Finally, there have been recent media reports that there never was an education clause in Shante's recording contract. When the reporter contacted Warner Brothers Records about the contract before the article, its only response was that it was having difficulty finding someone within the company who could "talk eloquently" about it.
From The New York Times, 2010:
In 2003, The New York Times published an article containing factual errors and misquotes contained in articles written by Jayson Blair, the reporter who became the central figure in the newspaper's plagiarism scandal earlier in the year. The corrections affected 10 articles that had been published from 2000 to 2003, with the errors reported to the newspaper after the scandal broke.
One 2007 study suggested "that fewer than 2 percent of factually flawed articles" in daily newspapers are actually followed by a correction.
- "Corrections, Refiles, Kills, Repeats and Embargoes - Handbook of Journalism". handbook.reuters.com. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
- Corrections and clarifications. The Guardian (London, England), 22 April 2004.
- Dawkins, Walter. Rapper behind 'Roxanne's Revenge' gets Warner Music to pay for Ph.D. New York Daily News, 4 September 2009.
- New York Times
- "Corrections to Articles by Jayson Blair," The New York Times, June 11, 2003. Accessed 09-07-2012. 
- Shafer, Jack. Reign of error. The average newspaper corrects very few of its factual errors, says professor. Slate, 15 August 2007.
- Amster, Linda, and Dylan Loeb McClain. Kill duck before serving: red faces at The New York Times: a collection of the newspaper's most interesting, embarrassing, and off-beat corrections. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2002. ISBN 0-312-28427-6.
- Silverman, Craig. Regret the error: how media mistakes pollute the press and imperil free speech. New York: Union Square Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4027-5153-0.
|Look up correction in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Kinsley, Michael. The shaky war on errorism. Washington Post, 4 September 2009.
- Lo Dico, Joy. Why, in the world of newspapers, sorry seems to be the largest word. The Independent, 23 March 2008.
- Lyall, Sarah. Confession as strength at a British newspaper. New York Times, 16 February 1998.