October's Great Idea of the Month: Lawrence Journal-World reporter pays for his mistakes
Friday, November 18, 2011
Posted by: David Arkin
IDEA OF THE MONTH
Winner: Andy Hyland
Paper: Lawrence Journal-World/LJWorld.com
Why he won: For years, every time Andy had to have a correction in the paper, he would write a check to an organization in need.
Links: About Andy, recent stories
Email Andy here
1. What prompted you
to do this idea?
I started this about four
years ago after a particularly hellacious week as a reporter at the Kansas City
Star in which I had three corrections. As with most journalists I know, I place
a huge value on accuracy, and every correction I have to write really bothers
me on a fundamental level. Editors hate corrections, sources hate corrections
and reporters hate them, too. I wanted to make corrections sting a bit harder
for me after having to write three in a week, but mostly, I think I just wanted
something good to come out of a situation that's otherwise negative all the way
around. I started writing checks to groups in need, every time I had a correction.
2. What did you do
to create it?
I just started writing
checks. I don't remember where the first check went, but since then I've
donated to all kinds of causes, including ones that I probably wouldn't have
known about otherwise. After my most recent correction, I'll be sending $50 to
the Scleroderma Foundation, an organization that's battling a disease that took
the lives of one of my friend's mothers.
3. How did you introduce or
promote it to your audience?
In this particular case, we
haven't introduced or promoted it to our audience at all. I feel it's more of a
personal thing for me. I certainly didn't start it with the intention of using
it to carry favor with sources or drum up support with our audience. In fact, I
don't mention it much at all. A few co-workers know about it (including the one
who runs our company's Relay for Life team), and a few of my close friends and
family, but that's about it.
4. Any results thus far?
I haven't kept careful track
of the results that have come from doing this, but it seems like I average
about three corrections per year these days (three too many!), but it can vary.
On a personal level, I hope that these small donations have helped mitigate the
general nastiness that always goes along with a printed correction.
5. What would you recommend
to other media wanting to do a similaridea?
While I certainly don't think
that companies or editors could force this idea on anyone, if individual folks
feel like this is something that would work for them, my only advice is just to
set up some guidelines that work for you and just jump in and do it.
Have a great idea? Apply here.