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The Little Bighorn had to happen precisely as it did, with the ensuing loss of life, for America to grow into the place that it is today. Think of it this way: for Americans in 1876, the massacre at the Little Bighorn was the very visceral twin of the attack on 9/11.

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Media Mistakes

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Writing to Die For

Canadian journalist and author, Craig Silverman (editor of Regrettheerror.com), has been one of the strongest proponents in holding the media accountable for its many mistakes.

In this excerpt from an interview, he explains his position:

“There has been a lot of scholarly research aimed at discovering the level of error in U.S. newspapers. It began in 1936 and has continued since then, with people like Scott Maier and Philip Meyer doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Overall, the research suggests that between 40 and 60 percent of newspaper news stories have some type of error, be it factual or something of a more subjective nature. So that’s the frequency. But here’s the other part of the equation: Research from Maier published this year found that only 2 percent of factual errors were corrected. So we have a relatively high error rate, and that is compounded by an anemic correction rate. Errors are not being prevented, and they are not being corrected.

“In a media environment where stories are often published in a paper, placed online and then loaded into various databases, the issue of uncorrected errors becomes even more urgent. The errors of today become the errors of tomorrow when they are accessed online or from a database at a later date. As much as we are creating the historical record, we’re also polluting it with errors. Errors can then be blogged, cited in research, used in press releases … they go farther, faster than ever before. In many cases, they exist forever. So we have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent and correct them. It’s part of our job as journalists. Stories don’t end once they’re published; we are responsible for correcting and updating them.

“The other piece, of course, is the effect that errors have on the public’s perception of the press. Put simply, errors erode credibility.”

Craig Silverman
Regret the Error.com

And for more information about mistakes made in the media, be sure to visit Found Innocent