Correction Policies of Online Publications

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Correction Policies of Online Publications

Keywords: correction, content, policy, Internet, online, electronic, publications, newspapers, media, regulation.

Program Track #2: Media/Information Industry
Peng Hwa ANG

School of Communication Studies

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Nanyang Avenue

Singapore 639798

Tel: (65) 790-6109

Fax: (65) 792-7526



Department of Communication

Stanford University, USA

Stanford, CA 94305-2050

Tel: (1-650) 497-6102


On the Net, anyone can be a publisher, so it is said. But as the number of online publications increases, it is clear that the quality of the content varies. In the offline world, such quality is regulated by industry and internal codes of practice. No such codes exist for Internet content.

The capacity for error is magnified on the Internet because information moves at greater speeds and in larger volume. This creates added time pressures for breaking stories and constant updates.
This study surveyed 319 online newspapers. Questions asked include how the policy reflects that used for the print version of the publication, how the procedures are carried out, and the practical problems that arise.
The survey found that two-thirds of the 94 respondents had some form of a correction policy. However, most of them only had their policies developed recently. And most of these policies were not written, only oral.
The errors found were similar to that found in the hardcopy counterpart. Objective-type errors--typos, misspelled names, technical and fact errors--formed the bulk of errors. The minor objective errors can be corrected quickly and even without a notice on the page where the error occurred. Subjective-type errors--omission, misquotes, misleading headlines, and under- or over- emphasis--formed a smaller percentage of errors. But corrections of these may require notices. The paper discusses some implications for editorial policy in implementing some of these correction notices.
A set of recommended guidelines for the development of such correction policies is included at the end of the paper.
As an epilogue, and yet another tribute to the speed of change of the Internet, the study should be inaccurate by the time it appears at INET99: as a result of the survey questions, many online editors said they would put more thought into developing a correction policy for their website.


Literature Review: The Practice of Correction Policies

The legal dimension

The journalistic dimension

The shift to online media


Analysis of Findings

Presence/absence of correction policy

Key elements and procedures of online correction policies

Problems in applying correction policies online

Comparison of correction policies in print and online media

Implications for Editorial Policy




Appendix A: List of Questions Used

Appendix B: Possible Elements for a Correction Policy in the Online Media

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