The one part of my
But that's all just style. As for substance, the most frequent cause for a rewrite is the mistaken idea that we never want to "repeat the error." For many publications, "do not repeat the error" is canon, and for many years that was the case at my newspaper. We reversed that policy several years ago, but it seems that not everybody got the memo.
A don't-repeat-the-error correction reads something like this:
A Dec. 20 Metro article misstated the circumstances of Montgomery County police's arrest of Harvey Baxter of Rockville. He was charged with speeding.Not exactly forthcoming about the error that was published, is it? Especially if, entirely hypothetically, an honest correction might read something like this:
A Dec. 20 Metro article incorrectly said that Montgomery County police arrested Harvey Baxter of Rockville after a two-hour chase and a bloody shootout and charged him with murdering his grandmother. No such chase or gunfight occurred, and he was charged with speeding.That's an extreme and entirely hypothetical example that would have involved some major libel; often the issue isn't so much righting a wrong against someone as it is simple clarity. To be clearly understood, a correction must clearly state what was wrong in addition to clearly stating the true version of events.
There are always exceptions, of course. If the newsroom tabby dozes off on the 7 key and nobody notices, it might be just fine to say that somebody is actually 77 years old without adding that you incorrectly said he was 7,777,777,777,777,777,777.