Ruth Gituma is one of the Nation readers who are concerned about “too many corrections” in their favourite paper.
We published her letter, titled “Quality Assurance”, in the Readers Have Their Say section of the Public Editor’s Notebook last Friday.
Such concerns go back to 2015, when I was appointed public editor. Lisa Kuria, in her letter, “You owe us as your loyal consumers” (July 22, 2015), said she continued to be disappointed on a daily basis by the typos and grammatical mistakes in the Nation.
“Surely, it must be possible to sort this out… I want to believe that Nation can put out publications that reflect the high standard we have known you for since I was a child,” she said.
Complaining of “glaring grammatical mistakes” on August 25, 2017, Naftali Osoro said lovers of the Nation “wonder as to what is going on in the editorial”. Rectify such mistakes “so that we continue enjoying the Daily Nation as we have done over the years”.
On May 3, 2019, Joseph Muiruri prayed that the Nation avoid “glaring mistakes so that the newspaper retains its credibility as a leading newspaper in the region”.
And on July 19, Mulang’o Baraza asked: “Who is responsible for the numerous grammatical errors in Nation publications?”
So the complaints go on and on. But, as I explained (“You don’t have to go through hoops to get errors corrected” — DN, May 18, 2018), the Nation is correcting more mistakes, not necessarily making more mistakes.
Most errors are identified by readers, who can get them corrected easily by sending an email to [email protected] The Nation has come a long way in correcting errors, I said in my article. Before 2015, there was no such facility.
“Readers encountered a culture of reluctance to own up to mistakes and publish corrections,” I wrote. “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.”
Confucius used to say: “If you know you made a mistake and don’t correct it, then you have really made a mistake.” The Chinese believed that even a saint could make a mistake. No man, or newspaper, is infallible.
“To err is human, but to recognise the error and correct it and learn from it gains respect from others,” somebody said.
Many readers appreciate that the Nation is now routinely correcting errors. Joseph Wanjohi, writing on September 2, 2019, said the Nation has, of late, taken prompt action in correcting mistakes, “which is very commendable.”
However, Mr Wanjohi said, he was concerned that the nature of the corrections “point to pure laziness in checking the facts”. Before 2015, the absence of corrections didn’t mean an absence of errors. In 2019, frequent corrections do not mean a surge of errors.
In my article of May 18, 2018, I quoted training editor Henry Gekonde as saying the Nation “has become more aggressive about setting the record straight when we make mistakes”.
Correcting mistakes is a good thing. Newspapers correct mistakes because they make them and they are not afraid of admitting they have made a mistake. In fact, they have an obligation to the reader to own up and correct the mistakes they make.
Accuracy is the essence of journalism and the NMG editorial policy and the Code of Conduct for the Practice of Journalism in Kenya require that mistakes should be corrected promptly when they are discovered.
Besides, the Nation is committed to accuracy and transparency. So next time you see a mistake corrected, you should be proud of your newspaper because it shows it does not, on the whole, ignore or try to cover up its mistakes.
As in personal relationships, admitting and correcting mistakes and learning from them builds credibility, trust and integrity and shows that you are honest and truthful.
Send your complaints to [email protected] Call or text 0721 989 264