Old News Online: Problem or opportunity?

What should newspapers do when subjects complain that incorrect news stories follow them forever? Start a moderated corrections wiki says media consultant Amy Gahran:

This corrections wiki wouldn’t be a free-for-all, of course. In order to weed out frivolous complaints, participants would have to provide verifiable information about who they are (including contact info, which could be kept private at the news org’s discretion), their connection to the story (if any), and a verifiable source for the facts they assert (including contacts, citations, or files, which could be kept private).

Contributions to that wiki would have to be moderated, to keep out libelous claims, spammers, etc. This would be an expense for the news org, but it might be worth it. The payoff is potentially huge.

A news organization that offers such comprehensive public redress would demonstrate its commitment to accuracy and fairness as well as respect for the voice of its community. This would likely yield significant loyalty — the ultimate cash cow and raison d’être of any news org. Also, some of those disputes might yield compelling new stories.

[Continued reading Fixing Old News]

Google is planning a similar “fix the news” site, albeit one powered by news subjects rather than traditional journalists. Some journalists worry it will be “larded with spin, hype and obfuscation.” Bloggers and others counter that these traditional journalists “simply do not understand the medium that is growing to dominate the news publishing industry.”

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This blog is maintained by Dr. Matthew M. Reavy as a service to journalism students at the University of Scranton.

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