"Why is there a button on every web story that lets you share, print or e-mail the post, but there isn't one that lets you correct it?", asks Jennifer Dorroh, director of the International Journalists' Network, reporting on the new initiative of Scott Rosenberg of MediaBugs and Craig Silverman of Regret the Error, who have just launched the Report an Error Alliance, an alliance of news organizations which makes accountability its primary aim.
"They create the Report an Error button in hopes that web publishers big and small will add them to their sites", Dorroh reports, "so news outlets and individuals can show their commitment to making it easy for people to report the errors they find online".
"We'll definitely be adding this to the new IJNet website, which is coming soon", she declares.
On the web page of the Report an Error Alliance, the founders write: "Giving site visitors an easy-to-find, easy-to-use "report an error" button is a way of saying to them that you care about accuracy, you want to know when you make errors, and you're conscientious about fixing them. It's like putting a "you can trust this" badge on everything you publish."
The Report an Error button is not the only way to have feedbacks from readers, of course, but the founders feel that this is the way to say to readers that "accuracy is my priority". There is commenting and the possibility to suggest corrections and general feedbacks in the "contact us" link, but as the Alliance underlines, "Comment threads can be a good place to report errors, particularly on lower-traffic sites. But all too often errors reported in comments never get responded to or fixed; sometimes they're never even read by the people responsible for the article" and corrections aren't easy to find and easy to use.
The Web offers an incredible chance to enhance journalism standards: not only can journalists apply (or should apply) the same standards of traditional media, but also the readers can contribute to publicizing the content, reporting the errors and, eventually, to defining new quality standards.