The Los Angeles Times corrected an Oct. 29 article on the San Fransisco Giants’ World Series victory but took the correction a step further by including an explanation from the reporter on how the error was made, how the reporter learned of the error, and how readers reacted.
The article originally reported that the Giants had formerly been in Brooklyn. The correction, added in the text of the article, reads:
“FOR THE RECORD: San Francisco Giants: An article in the Oct. 29 LATExtra section about San Francisco’s reaction to the Giants winning the World Series said the team had moved to San Francisco from Brooklyn. The team played its games in Manhattan and was known as the New York Giants.”
Outside of the correction, LA Times’s readers representative Deirdre Edgar pointed to the reporter of the article, San Francisco bureau chief Maria L. La Ganga‘s lengthy blog post about the error. La Ganga’s “In excitement over Giants’ World Series sweep, mistakes happen” post indicated that the error was simply because she “left my brain in San Fransisco” but explained:
“My brain and I have finally reconnected, thanks to an outpouring of emails (mostly gracious) and some online comments (much less so).”
Noting her deadline required her to write her article — “a colorful reaction piece” — “in less than an hour,” La Ganga included messages from a few readers about the error and accepted responsibility for her error:
“And truly, as in any mistake, I only have myself to blame. So, mea culpa.”
iMediaEthics wrote to La Ganga asking what prompted her blog about the error and who initiated the correction. According to La Ganga, she asked the LA Times to correct the story after hearing from readers about the error. La Ganga told iMediaEthics by email:
“I’d be happy to tell you about my Monday, the day that I learned a big lesson about baseball and the passion of its fans. I woke up at about 5:30 a.m., checked e-mail, read the papers and got ready to go to a 7:15 a.m. yoga class. The first e-mail from a reader landed in my in-box at 6:11 a.m. I saw it before I left for class and decided to deal with it when I got back home at about 8:30. By then, four more people had written to me about my ‘egregious’ error. So I called the city desk and asked that they put a correction on-line and in the paper.
“By the time I got to work, four more people had written, most of them really interesting and thoughtful. I e-mailed everyone back thanking them for the heads up and telling them that a correction was in the works. Most of the people responded gratefully. But that back and forth did not feel like enough. I kept thinking that there was a conversation to be had, and I wanted to be part of it. The issue tapped so many memories for people, and for me, too.
“So I wrote the blog post. I’m a really fanatical fact-checker, and I don’t have that many corrections. But when I need to do one, I usually slink around, humiliated, wondering when the pink slip is going to come. Interestingly, it felt really good to write this long explanation.
“Which brings me to the other point of all this. Corrections are really a good thing. They acknowledge that we are human. They bolster our credibility. They are key to what we are as journalists. But newsroom culture, I guess understandably, can make the whole process feel punitive. If you quote that last sentence, you MUST quote this next one: I could be projecting here, because my newspaper and my editors and our readers representatives are supportive and matter-of-fact about it all. But I think we do need to talk more about the process and make it more open and less freighted.
“That’s the long-winded explanation. By the time readers had contacted our lovely readers representative with their comments (‘Oh, the horror,’ one wrote.), both the short official correction and, I believe, the long blog post had already run.”
Edgar noted that the correction is posted both online and in print.
Poynter also wrote about this correction.