You don’t have to go through hoops to get er­rors cor­rected

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - OPINION - Send your com­plaints to pub­lice di­­tion­ Call or text 0821 989 275

Now you don’t have to jump through hoops to get the right per­son so that er­rors in the Daily Na­tion can be cor­rected; just email cor­rec­­tion­media .com. No need to write or call the pub­lic ed­i­tor — who, in any case, op­er­ates out­side the news­room — to re­quest for a cor­rec­tion. How­ever, you can still con­tact the pub­lic ed­i­tor if you’re not sat­is­fied with the re­sponse you get.

The Na­tion has come a long way. When I came in 2015 as the pub­lic ed­i­tor, there was no such fa­cil­ity. Read­ers en­coun­tered a cul­ture of re­luc­tance to own up to mis­takes and pub­lish corrections. While jour­nal­ists and ed­i­tors thrived on crit­i­cis­ing the trans­gres­sions of oth­ers, they shied away from cor­rect­ing their own mis­takes.

That’s why so few mis­takes were cor­rected — so much so that some read­ers have been sur­prised, even shocked, that the Na­tion now fre­quently pub­lishes corrections on page 2.

“Peter, what is hap­pen­ing… their (sic) are too many corrections and apolo­gies from Na­tion al­most on daily ba­sis,” one of them wrote. Mu­guna Ntum­bari, for his part, won­ders if Na­tion proof­read­ers have been laid off in aus­ter­ity mea­sures or they have all of a sud­den be­come a bunch of in­com­pe­tents.

On the con­trary, the Na­tion is not mak­ing more mis­takes; it’s cor­rect­ing more mis­takes. Ab­sence of corrections didn’t mean ab­sence of er­rors. Fre­quent corrections now do not mean a surge of er­rors ei­ther.

As corrections ed­i­tor Henry Gekonde says, the Na­tion “has be­come more ag­gres­sive about set­ting the record straight when we make mis­takes”. He added that corrections, clar­i­fi­ca­tions and apolo­gies are a good thing: “They show that we care about ac­cu­racy in our jour­nal­ism, and that we are not afraid to ac­knowl­edge er­rors when they oc­cur, be­cause we are hu­man and we make mis­takes. The best news­pa­pers in the world do ex­actly what we are do­ing.”

Liv­ing its com­mit­ment

The Na­tion is, in fact, liv­ing its com­mit­ment to ac­cu­racy and trans­parency. It’s be­ing hon­est about jour­nal­ism. In jour­nal­ism, mis­takes are com­mon. In my ar­ti­cle, Mis­takes and ty­pos are un­ac­cept­able, but we need to see them in perspective, pub­lished on April 2, 2015, I pointed out why jour­nal­ists make mis­takes and why cor­rect­ing them en­ables good jour­nal­ism. Jour­nal­ists make mis­takes be­cause of the hur­ried and in­com­plete na­ture of jour­nal­ism and in­for­ma­tion com­ing from dif­fer­ent sources. Due to the dead­line pres­sure and the speed at which they work, er­rors can eas­ily slip through — in­clud­ing those made by them be­cause they did not do their work prop­erly or failed to com­pre­hend and in­ter­pret in­for­ma­tion.

In jour­nal­ism, mis­takes are ex­pected. Some of the world’s lead­ing news­pa­pers have daily col­umns de­voted to corrections and se­nior ed­i­tors who deal ex­clu­sively with er­rors. A news­pa­per with­out er­rors, it’s said, is a news­pa­per with­out jour­nal­is­tic guts. It takes few risks.

How­ever, when a news­pa­per makes mis­takes, it should cor­rect them. In fact, the NMG ed­i­to­rial pol­icy, as well as the Code of Con­duct for the Prac­tice of Jour­nal­ism in Kenya, re­quires that when er­rors are dis­cov­ered they must be cor­rected promptly.


The Na­tion has done a good job re­port­ing the So­lai Dam tragedy, which was not an act of God. How­ever, his­tor­i­cally, the me­dia have failed to educate the pub­lic about such things.

The tragedy might not have hap­pened, or might have taken dif­fer­ent di­men­sions, had the cit­i­zenry been aware of the duty of care im­posed on all of us. As a com­mon law coun­try, the law of neg­li­gence im­poses a duty of care for al­most any­thing that we do, or fail to do, that could fore­see­ably harm oth­ers.

So­lai-type cases are no­to­ri­ous as li­a­bil­ity is im­posed when dan­ger­ous things on one’s land es­cape and cause dam­age, even in the ab­sence of neg­li­gence. The rule in Ry­lands vs Fletcher re­quires that we pay dam­ages.

PETER MWAURA A news­pa­per with­out er­rors is a news­pa­per with­out jour­nal­is­tic guts.”

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