Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What do you think of this idea then?

I read the post above with interest. It resurrected an idea I have had for years. One of those thoughts that comes up regularly and then hides itself away until the next time. It develops a bit then vanishes. It has followed this pattern for about 10 years and it pops into my mind whenever I read or hear about a newspaper having to publish an apology for printing something erroneous.

The idea is simply that, whenever a newspaper has to make an apology for printing something that is factually incorrect (usually libellous or slanderous), the apology has to take up the same amount of space as and be in the same position as the original article.

So, if the Daily Whatever covered its front page with an article revealing that Sven Goran Erikkson had been involved in a threesome with Jennifer Aniston and George Bush and this was later discovered to be incorrect, then the newspaper would have to devote its entire front page on the same day as the original publication day to an apology and correction.

I'm sure that Jennifer Aniston would be the only one who would have any complaint as it would do wonders for the reputation of the other two. The Swedish stud might be a little bit pissed off at being associated with Dubya in that manner but he doesn't appear overly fussy in his choices. By the time Dubya figured out where Sweden is, the matter would be long forgotten anyhow.

I can't see any downside to this idea.

Yes, in the event of having to print an apology, a newspaper might lose ad revenue. Yes, it might even lose readers. Yes, one journalist might not have something published because of another one's cock up. Yes, it may mean a newspaper could lose a lot over a genuine mistake that had been made in good faith.

And it just might make some newspapers think a bit harder before they publish something that can ruin an innocent party.

What do you think? Tell me if I've missed something obvious. I'd welcome some comments on this.

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