If the day comes when technology allows news organizations to transmit news and information to a computer chip implanted in the palm of your hand, I guarantee corrections to any misinformation will follow in the same manner.
To my knowledge, what sounds now like an outlandish way to deliver the news is nowhere on the horizon of the future. But, given the digital disruption to news and information in recent years, who knows what’s ahead?
What I know now is that however news is transmitted in the future, corrections to the inevitable mistakes that will be made in reporting the news must be transmitted clearly and promptly to readers too.
Corrections used to be a simple business. Back in the day when the Toronto Star was a newspaper only, when mistakes happened corrections were printed in the paper, most often on Page 2, and that was that.
A recent initiative to update Torstar news organizations on our corrections policies and practices, across all of the platforms on which we now publish, made clear to me how complex the business of corrections has become in our age of digital disruption.
These days we must think about how to correct in the paper, on websites, mobile sites, social media, newsletters, video, push notifications and now, via voice personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa. And clearly, given the 24/7 reality of news delivery, we must do that in real time to stop the flow of any misinformation as quickly as possible.
Some basic principles of accuracy, accountability and transparency guide us in these challenges. The first is timeless, rooted in the Star’s earliest expressions of its ethical commitments: There can be no compromise on accuracy. Accuracy is our most basic contract with readers.
Further, we believe that corrections to erroneous information are essential to earning public trust.