Thursday, November 02, 2006

Polly now gets stealth-edited to remove the errors

In today's "Corrections and clarifications" column in the Guardian, there is this:

A headline in last week's Catholic Herald read "Three days to save our Catholic schools", not "Three days to save our faith schools" (Government cowardice could be the death of us all, page 33, October 31).

Which refers, of course, to Polly's most recent column, which I wrote about here. Clearly, I need to use pictures rather than words more often.

-o0o-

Interestingly, the Guardian appears to stealth-edit errors out of articles online. Readers with long memories will remember that in August this year, Polly referred to Bill Rammell as the MP for Harrow West rather than for Harlow. A pretty curious error, as it can't have been a slip on the keyboard (L is nowhere near R and in any case it is difficult to accidentally type "West"), but be that as it may, it was corrected here on August 24th, which says:

Contrary to what we said in a column, The Byers plan deliberately ignores obscene inequality, page 27 (Comment), August 22, the higher education minister Bill Rammell is not the MP for Harrow West. His constituency is Harlow.

If, however, you now go to Polly's column, the original error has been airbrushed out of history. It now says:

Bill Rammell, the higher education minister and MP for Harlow, said sharply...

As opposed to the original, which said:

Bill Rammell, the higher education minister and MP for hyper-marginal Harrow West, said sharply...

Given that the Guardian has edited this, it is difficult to source authoritatively, but I have copied and pasted the above quote from the cache on my PC, and you can also see the Pendant's contemporaneous copy and paste here.

For shame.

14 comments:

Murdoch said...

What an extraordinary ignorant and childish post!

Mistakes happen and although I'm not defending PT the error of writing "Harrow West" for "Harlow" is hardly earth shattering. People make mistakes for all sorts of reasons and the important thing is to have them corrected promptly when noticed or pointed out.

Clearly an already printed output can't be amended, hence the subsequent printed correction. Online correction is possible without this, obviously, and no one in their senses goes around littering online stuff with corrections of trivial errors. It's neither desirable nor necessary as any fule kno - except, it seems, someone seeking a twig to bash pointlessly and boringly another writer who's clearly got under their skin.

Do give it a rest!

FactcheckingPollyanna said...

Murdoch --

I don't mind that they correct it; in fact this is probably a good thing.

However, not to acknowledge that you have corrected it leaves the commenters on the GU's sites, and those who linked the original pointing out the error, looking silly.

There are plenty of sites which will indicate all changes to copy after publication -- and certainly ones which have been brought to their attention by others. This strikes me as more honest, and also more polite.

Murdoch said...

I'll agree entirely that errors of consequence should be acknowledged in some way, even on online sites - perhaps by a note at the foot ranging from a self-deprecating remark through to a fullscale acceptance and apology. And I'll agree completely that some people find it hard to do this and that does them no credit when the error really is one of consequence.

But I stick by my comment that this was making a mountain out of a mousehole (to coin an error, not worth correcting, for special purposes ...)

FactcheckingPollyanna said...

Murdoch --

I'm touched that you regard a post on this blog as a "mountain".

I still maintain that making this sort of change furtively, and leaving the people who pointed out the error looking silly is rude and underhand. But I wouldn't want to bang on pointlessly and boringly.

Anonymous said...

i bungee with Murdoch

Anonymous said...

Sorry, i AGREE with Murdoch (MP for west Hatton).

FactcheckingPollyanna said...

Anonymous -- thank you for moving the debate along so constructively and eloquently.

Anonymous said...

Eek !! I’ve been censored.

Anonymous said...

No I havn't. What is going on here?

Unity said...

It's not just Polly, it appears to happen as a matter of routine on CiF.

An article attacking secularism on there the other day started out by claiming that the Jacobites were atheists, only to miraculously change when something pointed out that author probably meant the Jacobins.

gordon-bennett said...

Bill Rammell, the higher education minister and MP for hyper-marginal Harrow West, said sharply...

Two corrections were made to this. In addition to correcting the constituency name the word "hyper-marginal" was deleted.

I don't know why the word was relevant to the original article but it must have had a bearing on the intended message.

For example, if pt meant that rammell wouldn't have said what he said but for the fact that his constituency is a hyper-marginal then her work was more slipshod than a simple typo.

If this is the case a stealth edit is misleading.

Chris said...

Murdoch: the point it that if she can't even get that right, why should we trust anything else she says? Credibility. Gone.

The Purple Scorpion said...

You're reading the wrong blog, then, murdoch. Your comment reminds me of those book reviews where the reviewer berates the author for not having written a different book.

I actually find this blog mildly entertaining (and I LOVE the title). If you don't like it, it's you who's in the wrong place.

YellowDuck said...

Good blog. I must admit I admire your stamina...