Major news organizations continue to struggle with social media. Case in point: This weekend, the Denver Post's Facebook page mistakenly referred to Governor John Hickenlooper as Mayor John Hickenlooper in one item -- and although a prompt correction followed, that's not immediately clear by the way the Post handled the situation.
Check out this screen capture of the item:
Within minutes of the link's 5:52 p.m. Saturday appearance, readers set the Post straight with notes like "Seriously? Hickenlooper isn't even the current mayor... I'd be more forgiving if they said Vidal...but seriously??" and "Mayor Hickenlooper? I'm not from here and I know he isn't the mayor. Way to go Denver Post!"
The folks managing the Facebook page responded by 6:37 p.m. Saturday with this: "Excuse our mistake. We meant Mayor-elect Michael Hancock. We apologize for the error." But because the item wasn't re-posted in a way that got the info right even as it acknowledged the earlier issue, the mistake -- but not the correction -- continues to be visible to anyone who looks at the page. No wonder abuse from readers continues to pile up. Some examples from the 62 comments so far:
"Apology not really accepted...proofread, for heaven's sake..."
"I never write on big feeds like this, but this should be HUMILIATING for the Denver Post. It isn't like a small mess up nor is it even a big mess up somewhere on the paper, it is on the huge online feed that should be be an easy one liner to write and take a second to look at it and edit. I am frightfully embarrassed for the newspaper."
"I have to follow up. I think I am angry because it makes me embarrassed to live in Denver if this is the city newspaper. There better be a firing going on. Maybe the writer, maybe his or her supervisor or maybe the Editor in Chief."
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This last suggestion strikes me as exceedingly over-the-top. Like it or not -- and none of us in journalism likes it -- the speed at which news moves these days absolutely guarantees a certain number of botches. So, too, do economic realities, which have eliminated the layer of editorial oversight once in place prior to publication. As evidence, note that no copy editor or proofreader will read this post prior to it going live.
All scribes can do under such circumstances is to try their damnedest not to goof, and then make things right if slip-ups occur. And while the Post corrected its error in a reasonable amount of time, that's not immediately evident to anyone who doesn't take the time to click on the link and scans through more than a dozen comments.
Sorry about the continuing demotion, guv'nor.
More from our Media archive: "Denver Post yanks Doonesbury, Peanuts and few readers complain -- so far."