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Why Not Just Provide a Complete Correction?

More and more people everyday get their news from blogs. The argument has been made that blogs don’t do as good of a job of presenting the news as the mainstream media. Now, in a lot of cases, I would agree with that. For example, I’ve never pretended to be a reporter. In fact, I go out of my way to make it clear that everything written here is my opinion, albeit based on the facts as I see them.

With all that said, there is one place where a great many blogs clearly outperform the mainstream media – correcting mistakes. Let me give you one example. Yesterday, I wrote about an article published a little over a year ago in the Albuquerque Journal in which they incorrectly reported that Republican candidate for the 1st Congressional District, Darren White, attended a Department of Justice meeting during the 2006 election cycle regarding the inaction by then U.S. Attorney David Iglesias in prosecuting voter fraud cases.

I also pointed out that if either his opponent, Democrat Martin Heinrich or, his alter ego, the DCCC, tried to use that information in an ad, they would be continuing Heinrich’s track record of misrepresenting the facts. I was confident in making this statement because I had looked up the article in question [subscription] and noted that a correction had been added to the article on the Journal’s website:

FOR THE RECORD: This story has been corrected to reflect that Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White met with Kyle Sampson, chief of staff for U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in Washington in 2005 — not in 2006.

I thought that was that until I got an email from Darren White’s campaign with a little more information. They sent me a copy of an email they received from Journal editor Ken Walz [Note: I edited the email to remove “>” that were appearing before each line and so the paragraph formatting may be a little off, but other than that it remains unedited]:

—— Original Message ——–
[Fwd: Re: white]
Wed, 27 Aug 2008 17:01:00 -0600
Kent Walz
To:, Mike Gallagher

Sheriff White:

I have reviewed our David Iglesias stories with investigative reporter Mike Gallagher. It appears that in a story published April 15, 2007, we incorrectly placed you in a convesation with Kyle Sampson of DOJ during a meeting in the spring of 2006. We reported that you complained to Sampson about Iglesias and that Sampson produced statistics showing Iglesias was doing a good job.

In fact, based on other reporting, it appears to us the participants in that conversation with Sampson were Pat Rogers and Mickey Barnett and that you were not present.

Your met with Sampson in 2005 on a different topic, although Iglesi as came up during casual discussion. We have no information that you registered complaints about Iglesias during that meeting.

We did interview you for the story published in April of 2007, and you commented on other matters involving direct dealings between Iglesias and youir office. We no longer have notes from this period, so we cannot cite to additional specifics.

Kent Walz

cc: Mike Gallagher

And, herein lays the problem. This emails verifies that the content of the story is dramatically changed. It’s more than just the incorrect usage of dates. So, in the interest of setting the record straight, shouldn’t the Journal have prefaced the online archived version of the article with the entire letter above? There is nothing wrong with making a mistake. It happens to everyone, but not fully correcting the mistake, that’s just wrong.

The Albuquerque Journal needs to take a page here from bloggers and keep in mind that in online postings, there is no cost per inch factor. So, there is no reason not to provide a full and complete correction. It keeps everyone honest. The good news is that it’s not too late. All they need to do is go back to the article and put it up now.