Years ago, corrections in The Star started out with an explanation of how the error occurred: “Because of a reporter's error” or “Because of incorrect information provided by a source” for example.
Since The Star’s policy is to correct mistakes, does it really matter who erred? You could argue that it could be useful in evaluating whether the journalist is the one who messed up, as a yardstick to measure his future credibility.
But I can also tell you that a not-insignificant number of corrections arise from bad information from sources. However, noting that the mistake came from outside the newsroom looks a little defensive on the paper’s part. So in 1998, editors decided not to state who made the mistake in corrections.
I think that’s generally the right choice. At the end of the day, all that matters is setting the record straight.
In today’s print edition, though, there’s a counter-example. An item Wednesday said Joshua Diaz was charged with first-degree murder for a fatal shooting in the 1000 block of Cheyenne Avenue in Kansas City, Kan. But today, a correction and follow-up story say that site was in fact where Diaz is charged with a separate aggravated assault and criminal possession of a firearm.
The mix-up in locations, the story explains, came from the prosecutors’ initial press release about the incidents.
Do you think it’s going too far to mention that the mistake was the prosecutors’? In my opinion, you could argue either side.