Do you tell publications when they make a mistake?

I saw a factual error in my local newspaper a few days ago. I resisted the urge to email the writer or an editor to point out the error. I thought I’d see whether the paper published a correction in a subsequent edition. The incorrect fact would not cause any real harm.

I was formerly employed by that newspaper, and nowadays I feel a little weird about bringing mistakes to the attention of folks there. But if I were still at that newspaper, I’d want a reader to tell us about a mistake so we could run a correction. I am not sure, though, that every writer or editor feels the same way.

We did hear from readers and the subjects of news stories when we made mistakes in print, but we also heard from readers and subjects that they did not always contact a reporter or an editor when they spotted a mistake, even when the mistake was about them. I always thought that it would be much better for all of us if they had. Accuracy is important, even in the little things.

What do you do when you find a factual error (not a grammar/usage/misspelling/typo mistake) in a publication, especially a website or a newspaper?

One Response to “Do you tell publications when they make a mistake?”

  1. Aravinda

    So glad you asked! I saw such a mistake today and attempted to contact the publication. The publication in question is Amazon, which sent me a letter today that began with a testament to “the power and importance of reading” and being “passionate about books.”

    Later in the same letter, when I came across a grammatical mishap, I searched for the “Contact Us” button and sent a note across. I am not sure who reads these notes, so I also posted the note here:

    Grammar, Jeff Bezos, Grammar Please!

    I realize you were looking for factual errors, not grammatical, but given the error, perhaps the fact in dispute is the author’s avowed “passion” for books – considering he has bought a newspaper, the public needs to know!