Friday, March 30, 2012

Celebrating My Mistake in My Own Way

A few months ago my big boss, Matt DeRienzo, wrote a blog post about the need for us reporters and editors to celebrate our mistakes. Initially, the reaction was to roll one’s eyes.

And that’s because reporter’s never make mistakes. And when someone claims a reporter made a mistake please refer back to the previous sentence.
However, in all seriousness we do make mistakes, and my boss is right in that we should own up to errors when it’s our fault.

Sometimes people call us up to say we’re stupid or they don’t like that we quoted someone who expressed an opinion they don’t agree with. That is not an error or something that deserves a correction.

An error is what I did last night. In my story on the new Republican Town Chairman Lisa Bull DiLullo, I quoted Jack Fowler as saying he resigned the party in January.

The only problem is that was false. Fowler’s term expired in March and he choose not to seek a two-year extension. That’s a big difference.

I received an email from Jack at 6:30 a.m. this morning. I thought back to our conversation, and recalled Jack was right.

I immediately asked our Breaking News desk to change it online, and that we’d run a correction in print Saturday.

It was the best I could do to correct the situation at that moment. While a mistake is never something to be proud of, I believe it’s the way we address honest errors that defines our reputation as journalists.

The worst thing a journalist can do is refuse to own up the fact they make mistakes. I believe a lot of people think journalists believe they feel they are always right even when the facts prove otherwise.

I do home my next mistake will be a long time from now, but when I make it I hope I do the right thing and correct it asap. In that regard it’s good to celebrate our mistakes.

Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
New Haven Register
203-789-5719
Twitter @nhrbmccready

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