If there is one thing that is the root cause of most errors in journalism, it is rushing through the details.

By Sylvia Stead, for the Globe and Mail

If there is one thing that is the root cause of most errors in journalism, it is rushing through the details. Tied in with its corollary of not checking, these are the reasons why most mistakes happen, based on my experience writing hundreds of corrections each year.

How this happens is completely understandable. A number of stories are produced and written on deadline in a very compressed timeline. In the past week, in breaking news coverage of the U.S. primaries and the debates, there were two minor mistakes. One was a reference to Dennis Kasich rather than John Kasich (the Ohio Governor and Republican presidential candidate), the other a reference to the August Republican convention rather than the correct month of July. In both cases, the reporters had mere minutes from the end of the event to finish writing, do a quick overview and file for digital and print. In that rush, when you are focused on the main elements of the article, you can miss the details. The same is true for the editors, who also have minutes to check and review a myriad of facts before publishing.

And while they slip past in the rush, there are always sharp-eyed readers who know better.

It’s not just reporters who make mistakes. On Saturday, I heard from many readers who caught a mistake in the Cryptic Crossword by Fraser Simpson. One clue was wrong and another was missing, causing frustration on Saturday morning. Mr. Simpson graciously sent a note saying it was his mistake: Doing a quick cut-and-paste from his file before sending for publication, he missed the number for one clue and entirely missed the other.

Continue reading this on the Globe and Mail website, where it was first published.

Sylvia Stead is the Public Editor of the Globe and Mail.