Correction Policies of Online Publications: Setting the Record Straight in the Bazaar of Ideas

Penghwa ANG <>
Nanyang Technological University

Berlinda NADARAJAN <>
Stanford University


On the Net, anyone can be a publisher, so it is said. But as the number of online publications increases, it is clear that the quality of the content varies. In the offline world, such quality is regulated by industry and internal codes of practice. No such codes exist for Internet content.

The capacity for error is magnified on the Internet because information moves at greater speeds and in larger amounts. This creates added time pressures for breaking stories and constant updates.

This paper proposes to study the correction policies of online publications with the intent of recommending guidelines for such policies. A correction policy for online publications will enhance the credibility and reliability of online content, perhaps even over traditional archival material as errors on online publications can be highlighted and amended.

The paper begins by outlining the correction policies for traditional print and broadcast journalism. Next, brief sketches are given of cases of online journalism gone wrong and how correction policies may be applied to online publications. A survey will also be conducted to answer the question. Questions to be asked include how the policy reflects that used for the print version of the publication, how the procedures are carried out, and the practical problems that arise. For the study, online publications include e-letters that summarize surveys and other reports.

A correction policy also has implications for free speech arguments as it strengthens the argument that the Net is a marketplace of ideas that deserves free expression protection.

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