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Globe readers often catch errors that others miss

Sylvia Stead, The Globe and Mail’s public editor, is not immune to error.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Globe and Mail readers are a smart bunch. They are well-educated, well-read and they spot errors that others don't.

Several times, I have passed on reader queries about possible errors to both Canadian and world wire services and the editors for those services often say that only Globe readers had noticed the error.

For example, in this Canadian Press story about a Canadian set to win a world sailing race, several readers noticed a mistake.

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The article originally said English sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who first conceived of this race, was the first sailor to complete a solo circumnavigation of the globe.

Not so, Globe readers said.

One Ottawa reader wrote: "Contrary to the statement that in 1969 English sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston 'became the first person to complete an individual circumnavigation of the globe,' in fact the first person to sail alone around the world was a Canadian. Joshua Slocum (1844-1909) was born in Nova Scotia and grew up on Brier Island, Nova Scotia. In 1898, he became the first person to circumnavigate the globe alone, on a 37-foot oyster sloop named the Spray. No GPS, no Sat Phone, no international sponsors, no backup teams, just himself in a wooden boat and a lot of empty ocean. Not to take anything away from Sir Robin, but . . . "

A Toronto reader added: "Nova Scotia-born Joshua Slocum, in 1895 at the age of 51, left Boston in his rebuilt 37-foot sloop Spray to sail the world's first single-handed passage. But not not-stop. The voyage had taken him 3 years and 2 months to complete 46,000 miles. In 1909, Slocum was lost at sea after setting sail single-handedly from Martha's Vineyard heading for South America. Slocum is thought to be the patron saint of small boat owners and adventurers all over the world."

The readers were right and if you would like to know more about Joshua Slocum, you can read his memoir Sailing Alone Around the World

The story was corrected promptly by The Canadian Press after The Globe alerted them to the reader comments. But behind that small error lies a great part of Canadian history.

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About the Author
Public Editor

Sylvia Stead has been a reporter and editor at the Globe since 1975, after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in Journalism with a minor in Political Science. She won the Board of Governors Award there in 1974. As a reporter, Sylvia covered courts, education and Queen's Park. More

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