One of the most serious and most harmful blanket complaints levelled against blogs is that they are inaccurate—or, worse, that they are unconcerned with accuracy.
We make no pretensions that we at Torontoist are now or can ever be flawless: while we have a copy editor, an editor, and an assistant editor, we have no full-time fact checkers, and no money in our budget for one in the foreseeable future. (It’s one of the ways we’re just like the big papers!) And even though we like writing about stuff like Pac-Man street art and hipster warfare, we do take what we do seriously enough to think we should get it right, and as our readership grows so does our obligation to always present correct information. We, the Torontoist staff, currently make every effort possible to make sure that everything we write is accurate. (Some but not all posts are vetted by editors before they are published; the responsibility for accuracy rests most in the hands of a post’s author.)
When we do make mistakes, though, it’s important that we acknowledge them prominently, something we haven’t been doing as good a job of doing as we ought to until this point. As Jeff Jarvis concluded in the introduction to Regret the Error, Craig Silverman’s book about media errors: “We all make mistakes. That’s not the question. The question is what we do next.”
As of today, Torontoist is implementing a new standard format for all corrections to posts. Any significant corrections or clarifications will be made as quickly as possible, and a note acknowledging them will be written by the editor-in-chief or an assistant editor and will appear as follows at the bottom of a post:
The tag “corrections” will also be added to the post—and a link to that tag is in our left-hand sidebar. (You can also subscribe to the tag, as you can with any other tag, using RSS.) If the error was pointed out or discussed in the comments, an editor or assistant editor will also post a comment as soon as possible, linking to the correction, so that the comment thread stays up to date and in context, too.
For now, we are still getting a feel for how this system will be used. (A—gasp—misplaced apostrophe: less likely to receive a formal correction; a typo—depends; misspelled names: probably; egregious errors: uh, yes.) There may be some growing pains. No matter what, though, the help of our readers will be invaluable in spotting mistakes and fixing them, and we’d love it if you could help report a mistake if you spot one by emailing email@example.com. We’d advise against leaving a comment if you catch a mistake: private e-mail allows for more quick back-and-forth than our comments do, and also ensures an editor follows up quickly.
With the new system, we are trying to be transparent; to admit to, highlight, explain, and ultimately own up to our mistakes when we make them and take steps to prevent them from happening again. Our goal is that that process, in addition to making our errors and their corrections more prominent, will also make them more and more rare—and we’ll all be better for it.
firstname.lastname@example.org rather than posted in the comments—that’s the best way to make sure editors don’t miss them.From now on, all correction notices will include not just the date but the time a correction was issued. Also new: comments noting corrections will only be added to articles if the comments are where those corrections were pointed out. Less new, but changed above nonetheless: a link to our recent corrections has moved from our main menu (at the top of the page) to our sidebar (at the the left), and we’ve for some time now encouraged corrections to be submitted to