At first glance, the new UK site, ICorrect.com, appears to be a venue for subjects of bad media reporting to have the truth aired.
But, the Observer’s reader’s editor, Stephen Pritchard, noted in his March 20 column that if you “read the small print,” you have to pay $1,000 a year to register with the site in order to have your “corrections” published. (The fee for corporations is $5,000 a year).
Pritchard has been the Observer’s reader’s editor since 2001. While Pritchard commented that newspapers will correct articles for free, he observed that some of the corrections on ICorrect are to articles published in newspapers with “no corrections service” like the Mail and the Telegraph.
And even though the site purports to be a corrections site, it turns out its users’ posts aren’t fact checked. As Pritchard described it: “it’s an individual’s word against the media.”
The site describes itself as “setting the record straight” by letting the people being reported on have a voice to tell their side of the story. Interestingly, it claims it is ” the first website to correct permanently any lies, misinformation and misrepresentations that permeate in cyberspace.” However, it doesn’t appear that it really does any correcting per se – just publishing another point of view.
Correcting information would require the site to approach media outlets misreporting and have those media outlets change their accounts of stories. ICorrect describes itself as serious and permanent as well as a site that “facilitates apologies and notices.” However, the site states it doesn’t try to keep “future” inaccuracies from happening – just to correct the past. StinkyJournalism has written to ICorrect to ask how many “apologies and notices” it has produced.
The site’s terms and conditions state that users are “solely responsible” for their uploads and that the site isn’t “responsible” and doesn’t “verify” anything posted on the site. ICorrect “makes no guarantee regarding the reliability, accuracy, legitimacy or quality of any such Postings.”
The site is run by Sir David Tang, who noted that the site has “only been live” since the beginning of March. Tang reportedly explained that he “approached 30 celebrities to post corrections to help launch the site.”
Users include Cherie Blair, who has posted three “corrections” — one as far back as December 6, 2010 and two this past week on March 14 and 15. iMediaEthics has asked ICorrect.com how Blair has a “correction” posted in December if the site only recently went live. We will update with any response.
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Notably, one of Blair’s “corrections” is over the Daily Express’ Nov . 5, 2010 story saying that the burkha is “no more a threat than a nun’s habit.” The Express apologized to Blair for that article March 5, as StinkyJournalism reported. The Express and its six sister titles were kicked out of the UK media regulatory body, the Press Complaints Commission, in January after their parent company Northern & Shell stopped paying dues to the group that funds the PCC.
Other “corrections” posted on ICorrect.com include
- Kate Moss’s March 10 statement that she doesn’t have a Twitter or Facebook
- Sienna Miller’s Jan. 2 announcement that she’s not a Twitter user
- Elle MacPherson’s March 9 “correction” that her real website is (www.ellemacpherson.com).
Tang might keep some people from signing up for the site, the Telegraph noted. “Would I allow the BNP leader Nick Griffin onto my site? On the whole, I’d have to be very careful about including someone like him because he might fall into the category of incitement to crime. Mugabe? If you pressed me, I’d say no,” Tang is quoted as saying.
He also noted that he wants to expand the website to include the United States, China and South America.
In interviews with the Observer and the Telegraph, Tang stressed that the site doesn’t check what its users are posting and that he “can’t be responsible for veracity.”
“I pray every day that we won’t be sued, but the way that media are developing we have to change the law on defamation anyway,” Tang is quoted by the Observer as saying. He told the Telegraph that he’s “not setting myself up in judgement or as a moral arbiter about what people want to say; as long as it’s not libellous or an incitement to crime, I’m happy for it to go up. What the public then makes of it, is up to them.”
Hat Tip: Ink Stained Wretch