A reader in London, Ont., wrote to me to say there really shouldn’t be corrections – because all information should be checked before publication. “Doesn’t anybody proofread stories any more before a paper is printed? … To misspell a person’s name (Smyth instead of Smith, or other examples) I can see, BUT to use the wrong name or figures, etc., is surely unacceptable. How does one know if the story they read is correct? As Trump likes to say, it is “fake news” (which of course it isn’t, just maybe some incorrect info).”
He is right: There are too many errors in The Globe and Mail, because any error is one too many – and our goal is perfection. But, honestly, that is not realistic. There are about 40 to 50 errors a month in The Globe, despite all efforts to check and double-check facts. If it helps to know: Reporters are usually mortified about such errors, and want to see them corrected as quickly as possible.
Mistakes happen, in some cases, because reporters are filing quickly, on deadline, and editors are dealing with new and varied subjects, and many stories, also on deadline. Some errors are caused by a misunderstanding, confusion, or even a simple brain freeze.
So I thought I would offer a small quiz. Inspired by the hundreds of corrections we printed this year, it includes some of our most obvious mistakes, and a few trickier-to-spot ones: 17 fact-related things you would need to tackle quickly as an editor. Use your intuition and knowledge. And good luck.