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October's Great Idea of the Month: Lawrence Journal-World reporter pays for his mistakes

Friday, November 18, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: David Arkin
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Winner: Andy Hyland
Lawrence Journal-World/
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.

Associated Press Media Editors

APME is a professional network, a resource for helping editors and broadcasters improve their news coverage and newsroom operations.

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