As iMediaEthics wrote last month, Sir David Tang launched the UK site ICorrect.com that charges people $1,000 a year to post their own “corrections” of media inaccuracies. The site, a pay-to-play model, doesn’t fact check submissions and has left some journalists and media outlets wondering why?
And, of course, one very large question is begged in all this: Since there will be no fact checking, who’s to say that the “corrections” submitted by celebrities are, in fact, correct and not just more publicity spin.
After all, as UK Observer public editor Stephen Pritchard commented, celebrities and noncelebrities alike can get news outlets to issue corrections and apologies – for free.
Editors Weblog criticized the site and its charging for corrections, commenting that
“Truth is not something it should be necessary, or even possible, to pay for. It’s the primary duty of journalism and media accountability and professional ethics exist to ensure it.”
Interestingly, while the site is marketed to celebrities and public figures who would shell out the $1,000 annual fee (or corporations, which are charged $5,000 per year), Tang apparently doesn’t think much of those celebrity clients. Tang commented to the Times that his site is very simply designed so “even the most stupid person” can use it. The site displays the alleged error on the left, with the user’s retort on the right.
The site’s visitors are apparently expected to trust the celebrity or public figure’s “truth.”
But the lack of fact-checking or vetting of the so-called corrections, impacts the site’s creditability as it has nothing to do with truth seeking but with pleasing paying customers. ICorrect states, flatout, “At ICorrect, the customer is always right, regardless of what’s actually true,” CJR noted.
“The idea for iCorrect isn’t totally crazy — but they’re marketing it to the wrong people. At first I thought it would be interesting to read celebrity corrections, but it’s intensely boring. Maybe if the site were geared at normal people who’ve been in the public eye for one reason or another and have something to defend, that would be more interesting.”
Maybe, for example, the “corrections” of Andrew “Andy Mush” Russo, would be someone ICorrect could serve. As StinkyJournalism wrote this morning, the NYPost corrected a story that misidentified Russo, a “reputed Colombo crime-family boss” as a government informant.
Instead, ICorrect’s users include celebrities ike Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK prime minister Tony Blair, seeking to correct alleged falsehoods about her in the press. Blair defended her participation on ICorrect to the Times, saying that its purpose comes in letting people correct media errors.
But, part of the problem with ICorrect is that it appears to be a site hosting corrections, but since the information posted by users isn’t fact checked, it really just displays he said-she said arguments with no promise of veracity. User-submitted “corrections” may be falsehoods, and the site could be further degrading the quality of information on the Internet.
CJR added that celebrities have numerous other outlets for fighting inaccuracies in the media, such as Twitter, legal recourse and access to the media.
Blair herself, for example, was able to secure a correction from the Express for its inaccurate story about her position on burkhas — one of the issues she sought to “correct” via ICorrect.
The New York Times reported that Tang had 225,000 visits the first weekend it was live.