Sunday, May 21, 2006

Howell Wants to Hear From You

Answering e-mail shouldn't trump doing good journalism. Reading thoughtful e-mail tells journalists what readers think about their work. The opinions can be accepted or not, but knowing them is important. And replying -- even quickly -- to local subscribers lets them know they're needed. We blow them off at our peril.

Deborah Howell can be reached at 202-334-7582 or email her.

Have You E-Mailed The Post Lately?
Sounds like an invitation to me. I hope you won't disappoint her.

- Taylor Marsh

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Howell Trumpets "Corrections Overseer"

Most corrections, except for those of the editorial pages and the Extras, run on Page A2, which also occasionally includes a notice telling readers that they can contact or the ombudsman, or telephone The Post at 202-334-6000 and ask to be directed to a particular desk -- such as National, Metro or Sports -- to make a complaint.

This is good as far as it goes, but The Post needs to make it easier for readers to request and find corrections. That information box on Page A2 appears sometimes but not often. There sometimes doesn't seem to be a sense of urgency in making corrections. The standards for corrections differ from desk to desk -- not hugely but enough to be troublesome. There is no appeals process for readers if an editor turns down a request.

Watching the corrections process during a career in journalism has led me to one conclusion: Journalists are often thin-skinned and resist corrections. I've been guilty of that myself.

Policy vs. Reality in Correcting Errors (emphasis added)
Hmmm... A "corrections overseer." Does anyone have a correction you think the Washington Post should consider? Ms. Howell is evidently suggesting you contact the "corrections overseer." But it seems she's also admitting she makes mistakes, too. Unfortunately, she isn't specifying the mistakes that led to this open letter. Feel free to remind her, though it's doubtful they're going to look backwards at this point. That would be too much to ask.

Oh, and make sure you get a load of the quote from the "Post Stylebook" at the top of her column. Talk about chutzpah.

Taylor Marsh