Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Paper's Election Day Mistake Underscores Web Corrections

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Paper's Election Day Mistake Underscores Web Corrections

Article excerpt

As one Orange Park reader said Tuesday, "Good thing I didn't listen to you. I did vote."

That's not what newspaper advocates want to hear, but the reader was right.

Here is what happened. On Tuesday's front page, voters were advised that only Republicans could vote in a county commission race in Clay County and only Democrats could vote in a county commission race in Baker County. Wrong.

Though it appeared both were primaries, any registered voter could participate in those two races because there was no opposition in the general election.

Therefore, readers who relied solely on the Times-Union were misled and possibly did not vote. One could only hope that Times-Union readers are also news junkies and know better, like the Orange Park reader. In fact, the Baker County race was so close that it required a recount.

Normally, all the Times-Union could do is apologize and run a correction the next day.

But in the Internet age, there was a timely opportunity to update the Web site immediately (www.jacksonville.com). That was done.

This highlighted the need for a regular corrections column on the Web site, just like the print edition.

There are two reasons for this: There is the practical need to report mistakes in time for readers to act upon them. Second, there is the ethical concern that readers should be informed when a story is incorrect.

An example of a good correction column online can be found on the Web site of The Washington Post. It provides a link to corrections on the top half of its home page (www.washingtonpost.com). And corrections are displayed prominently in a box on the top of each story.

That leads to my suggestions:

1. The Times-Union should have a prominent corrections column on its Web site. Readers should be referred to the reader advocate for complaints regarding accuracy, fairness and completeness. …

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