The number of corrections in The Globe and Mail has inched up this year, perhaps 10 per cent more than last, but frankly I was surprised it wasn't higher.
In May, The Globe introduced a link on every online article asking readers to report a typo, error or concern; given there were more than 5,000 of those clicks, I expected many more corrections.
An assistant editor, Alasdair McKie, introduced the option because he believed there are so many smart Globe readers and it was inevitable they would catch things the reporters and editors didn't. "We value getting things right, and this helps," he said.
He was right, and while I can't say for sure how many corrections came from the links, it is clear that at least dozens more were found thanks to sharp-eyed readers.
Those requests for corrections and to point out typos make their way to me. Last year the number of published corrections online and in print was just over 400, significantly lower than previous years that saw the number range from 500 to closer to 600. This year will likely end up at around 450 or a bit higher.
Of the 5,000 notes from readers through the online links, more than half were self-labelled as typos or spelling concerns, which are corrected without a formal note and are not tallied. About a third were listed as factual errors; about 10 per cent were editorial concerns; the rest were complaints about the comments process.
So let's focus on the ones readers themselves called factual errors. Many were really spelling errors or editorial concerns about such things as perceived balance. One reader complained that a story didn't include a photograph of a more beautiful room at a particular museum. A concern, but not an error.
Often it was a grey area where a headline (with its handful of words) didn't capture everything in the story. One reader noted that a photo caption for the Queen's celebration in London read "England celebrates." The reader wondered: What about Wales, Scotland, etc.? "Should the caption not have read 'U.K. celebrates.' " He had a point, but it wasn't wrong to say just England in this case.
And when there is a glaring error, we hear from many staff and readers.
Corrections are published on page A2 in the paper and noted online with the article. The policy is to be transparent about what was wrong initially and what is right. Some of the corrections make you smile, such as this one: "An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Mad Hatter was the one who said he was late, late for a very important date. In fact, it was the White Rabbit." Here's another. "No friend of The Donald, Ohio Governor John Kasich was incorrectly called Donald Kasich."
Most are minor: misspellings of names, an outdated title for someone, that kind of thing. But some are serious, such as this one: A Saturday news article on the death of Colten Boushie included this quote, which he had posted on his Facebook page: "Back in the saddle again, throw my middle finger up to the law ain't gotta rob nobody tonight but I do it just because I'm a nut i get bored did some pills but I want more." Those were not Mr. Boushie's words. He was quoting hip-hop artist Yelawolf.
But back to The Globe's very smart readers who either click the online link or e-mail me directly. Their collective scientific, mechanical, sports, cultural, legal, historical and general knowledge is amazing. Here's a sampling of mistakes they caught that were fixed.
"A Saturday story on Zika referred to a deletion in the virus's DNA sequence. In fact, the mutation occurred in the virus's RNAs."
"A story incorrectly stated that the Leafs and Canadiens had not played each other in the postseason since they met for the Stanley Cup in 1967; however, they had played once."
"Spelt is not gluten-free. Incorrect information appeared in the original version of this article."
"An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Manny Machado singled to score Caleb Joseph in the bottom of the 10th inning. In fact, Machado walked and during another player's at-bat, Joseph scored the winning run on a passed ball by Josh Thole."
Then there were two math challenges about eggs, again caught by readers applying math and logic skills. One noted that the "story on eggs incorrectly said there are 40 million eggs laid in Canada every year. In fact, there are 40 million boxes of eggs laid."
The other: "A Saturday Report on Business graphic said the price of eggs has dropped about 300 per cent to as low as 99 cents (U.S.) a dozen. In fact, since September, 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture says egg prices are down 37.6 per cent."
So, thank you to the thousands of you who also care about getting the record right and who let Globe staff and me (email@example.com) know when The Globe has erred. We believe this new feature will help better achieve that goal.