Typos are made. It happunz! Even to the Wall Street Journal, a Big and Important publication that one would assume had a streamlined, easy-to-use system in place for handling typos and other such mistakes in their articles.
That doesn’t seem to be case, however, at least not when it came to a book review that appeared in the Journal wherein the author’s name was misspelled. Writer and editor Scott Rosenberg alerted the Journal about the mistake, but received no response. He then emailed the review’s writer, who promptly wrote back to Rosenberg, admitting to the mistake but saying that, as a freelance contributor, his only option was to notify his editor. Several days later, as Rosenberg chronicled on his blog, and the mistakes were still up, with no correction or retraction.
Rosenberg’s efforts were met with derision and dismissed by some commentors, to which Rosenberg responded with the following on his blog:
In this case, the author, Mac McClelland, happens, right now, to be doing some on-the-ground reporting from the Gulf oil spill for Mother Jones. If you were her, you might want readers to connect the book review with the in-the-news byline.
So another possible response is: The Journal‘s editors and reporters are very busy people. They’ve got financial meltdowns to cover. Why are you harassing them with this trivia?
That’s just fine — unless the Journal actually cares whether its readers trust its coverage. If a news outlet can’t be bothered to get an author’s name right, can you count on it to get the financial stories right?
So, how has everything turned out? Find out, after the jump.
So, that’s sorta good!
Then there’s the case of Michael Gross, a contributing editor to various publications and the author of, among other things, 740 Park — “the inside story of New York’s richest, most prestigious cooperative apartment building.” Gross chronicled his own experience and frustration with the Wall Street Journal‘s system for handling typos and other errors pointed out by readers on his blog.
In late August, the real estate column in the Wall Street Journal (locked behind a firewall, so no link, sorry!) ran a notable sentence about the subject of my penultimate book, 740 Park. It was notable because in a mere twenty words, it contained five errors. As the self-appointed guardian of 740 facts, I penned what I hoped was a wry note (inspired by the one John Lennon wrote to Queen Elizabeth when he returned his MBE to the British Crown “in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts”) pointing out the mistakes and expressed a preference that it run as a letter to the editor rather than a correction since, as a former reporter myself, I know how much they hate corrections — and, being thoroughly shameless when selling a new book, I hoped to get Rogues’ Gallery mentioned. But the WSJ is holding firm. “Because my sources won’t contradict the descriptions I’d written, we won’t write it up as a correction,” columnist Sara Lin informs me.
You can read a play-by-play of the Journal‘s errors in that particular story on Gross’ blog. So, tell us: Have you ever written to the Journal with a correction? Was your experience positive? What publications out there have the best and worst systems in place for handling feedback from readers?