How to Correct and Acknowledge Mistakes In Online Publications

Editorial

Your magazine writers and editors are undoubtably great, but humans are humans, and sometimes in publishing, mistakes are inevitable. However, if you discover a factual error in material you've already published online, you're not doomed. There are some simple steps you can take to correct the error and let people know that you've discovered and acknowledged the mistake. 

1. Verify the Error

If you notice an error in an online article, or someone brings it to your attention, do the proper legwork to determine what is wrong in the text. Is there an incorrect fact in the article, such as a date, name or age? Has something been referred to imprecisely, for example, using the wrong nickname or shorthand? Have incorrect conclusions been made based on correct facts in the article? Carry out research to find and verify what the facts actually are before you move forward to remove and correct the error. You can use tools such as dictionaries, encyclopedias and other reputable publications, but try to avoid unverifiable sources like Wikipedia.

2. Remove and Correct the Error

If you find an error in an online article that has been published, you should first go in and correct the article. A mistake does not need to remain in the article just because it was there in the original version. There is also no need to unpublish an article because of a mistake -- a correction will suffice. Simply remove the error or misimpression, then replace it with the correct information.

3. Add a Note about the Correction

If you go in and amend or update an article, you should make a note about the correction somewhere in the article. The note should explain the error and the correction clearly (for example, "An earlier version of this article stated....") According to the Washington Post's rules about fixing errors in published articles, the placement of the correction note depends on the egregiousness of the error. Usually, a note about the correction at the bottom of the article will suffice. However, if the error greatly affected the content or meaning of the article, you can put the correction note at the top so people visiting the page will immediately understand that the content has been amended. If the error you discover in published content is extremely straightforward and does not affect the meaning of the content in any way, such as a simple typo or grammatical mistake, then you do not need to make a note about the correction at all.

4. Let the Appropriate People Know about the Correction

If someone brought the error to your attention, let them know that you have corrected and updated the content and send them a link to the corrected version. If your error affected people directly (with incorrect information about a name, age, profession and so on), and they are aware of the article, let them know that the correction has been made, or let their publicist, PR people or agent know.

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