By Kathy English for the Toronto Star
Sometimes a typo published in the Star is just that, a regrettable slip of the finger that makes little difference to readers’ understanding of the news at hand.
Vigilant Star readers report dozens of typos every day, most of them minor slip-ups — usually resulting in garbled and obvious misspellings — that do not rise to the level of requiring a formal correction.
There are times, however, when a “typo” has significant impact on what readers know and understand. That is what I call a mistake. That is when a correction is required.
This distinction between a typo and a mistake is sometimes a source of debate among readers, newsroom journalists and the public editor’s office. How many times have I been told “It’s just a typo,” by journalists resisting corrections of what they deem insignificant errors?
There is also debate at times about when it’s necessary to add correction notes to articles published online and “fixed” shortly after publication. To me, this is no debate: The Star’s online corrections policy is clear: We do not “scrub” errors in digital copy and make like they were never published. When changes are made following publication that can affect a reader’s understanding of the story, we add a correction to the article stating what was changed from the earlier version.
These issues resulted in some heated discussions in recent days after Star columnist Rosie DiManno opposed a reader’s request for a correction note on the online version of a column she wrote last week about the Jian Ghomeshi trial. The column, when first published online, included what DiManno characterized as a “typo, not an error,” which she deemed to be “nothing of significance” that few readers would note.
That “typo”? DiManno wrote that Lucy DeCoutere’s so-called “love letter” to Ghomeshi presented in evidence at the trial was dated July 9, 2013. What she meant to type was 2003, the actual date on the letter.