The Washington Post this month entered the arena of crowdsourcing accuracy — and in a big way.
Like the Missourian’s “Show Me the Errors,” the Post has reached out to its readers by asking for fixes. Every article includes a box that says: “Corrections? Suggestions?”
It’s more work to report an error. At the Missourian, you fill in the box and send (if you’re registered). At the Post, the linked page asks you to copy and paste in the URL of the article. You also must check one box for the section the story ran in and another for the kind of mistake: factual, grammatical, punctuation or spelling.
Then you can describe the error.
That’s the awkward part.
The cool part — the one we should consider at the Missourian — asks:
“What do we need to know to improve future stories on this topic?”
Well, that’s just great.
I wouldn’t want to clutter up the Missourian article page much more. Perhaps, though, it could be an invitation added somewhere else (on the “Preview Correction” page?)
What’s so swell about it? To me, it feels more like an invitation to describe the parts that aren’t wrong but aren’t in the article at all — to get at those things that are accurate but incomplete.
Matt DiRienzo of The Register Citizen in Connecticut said these errors of omission are far more extensive. “We don’t go deep enough into a story, or we miss pieces of information and perspective that would change readers’ perception of an issue.” His newspaper also was one of the first to crowdsource corrections.
But wait. There’s more at the Post.
The Washington Post corrections/fact check page even has a “yes/no” opt-in to the question, “Would you be willing to help with other stories?”, suggesting that the paper is building a foundation for future crowdsourcing efforts, perhaps by specific topic.
This is a huge symbolic shift, I hope, away from the “fortress journalism” that traditional media has clung to even as the web and social media have completely changed the audience dynamic out from under them.
I’m sure there are other examples out there. Show Me the Errors has been a great success since its launch last semester. (It was first formally proposed by a team of students in the Journalism & Democracy course.)
How can we make it even better?