Online articles should be corrected

Montreal City Weblog has a post about a story that updated quickly enough that different sources had different versions. The story is about a girl in St. Sauveur who said she escaped a kidnapping attempt. The only problem is she made it all up.

Here’s the thing: The original story is still up there, with no indication that the kidnapping didn’t happen. No correction, no update, no link to a new story.

This isn’t a problem limited to the CBC. While major outlets like the New York Times will put a “correction appended” notice on articles that are updated, most don’t bother. They’ll put up a new story when new developments happen, and leave the old one to be spread among blogs, spidered by search engines and continue to give out misinformation to an unsuspecting public.

Among the news outlets that left original stories up with no indication of corrections or updates:

News outlets that replaced the original stories with new ones saying the kidnapping was a hoax:

The fact that there’s a second list is comforting, but the first one (most of whom simply recopied the Canadian Press story) is still far too long.

There’s no excuse for allowing incorrect and incomplete information once correct information is known. News media (traditional and new alike) have to shape up and fix that fatal flaw if they’re to be trusted to give us accurate information.

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