View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, July 21, 2003


Turns out the Denver Post has an interesting on-line corrections policy. They correct the story on-line, and then note, at the bottom of the corrected story, that it's been corrected. I realize one of the joys of the electronic age is the obsolescence of white-out and correcting tape, but this is going a bit far.

Wouldn't we all like to be able to do this with our lives? We could go back, make a little notation in a personal diary that, say, Election Day 2002 was a mistake, and we'd like Bill Simon as Governor, after all. We note that our vote on that day has been "corrected," and the Universe totals up the new votes, and voila!, not only is Simon the Governor now, he has been for 6 months. Another notation and, wham!, my car's intact and the city doesn't need to buy a new lightpole. I know Kobe Bryant would give several years' salary for this sort of thing right now.

South Park did one of their less-funny shows about Steven Speilberg and George Lucas digitally "fixing" their old movies. Lucas basically confined himself to adding new special effects to Star Wars, which sort of distorts the contemporary state-of-the-art for future film historians. But Spielberg has gone back and turned the policemen's guns into flashlights as they search the forest for ET and the kids. Halt! Or I'll tell you to look into one of these flashlights! Policemen have guns, had guns, and always will have guns. It's not pacifist to airbrush in flashlights, it's Orwellian.

The political potential for this sort of thing has already been explored by 1984 and the Kremlin. The Post will argue that this isn't what they're doing, but it is. Because unless I go back and re-read every story for a week, I'm never going to see the correction. Unless I assume that every story is factually flawed, I'm going to read the story and go on. So while the official record is fine, the "facts" that people are carrying around in their heads likely aren't. On top of that, the Post has a responsibility to take its lumps like everyone else, and not try to hide its mistakes under a nest of digits.

For the record, I also emails the Rocky about their policy, but they haven't gotten back to me yet.

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