Monday, March 08, 2004

Editing saves the day, again

A Tacoma News Tribune writer of 15 years resigned after editors raised questions about his sources. They couldn't confirm the existence of most of the people quoted by Bart Ripp. The editor writes:
When I met with Bart two weeks ago to ask him about our findings he resigned on the spot.

He maintains he never made up a quote or a person in his reporting at The News Tribune. I offered to give him a week to find any of the people we couldn't. He declined.
This is just another case proving that editors can and should double-check every name when there's time. In addition to the surprisingly high number of spelling mistakes you'll find, you never know what you won't find. And that's our job, too.

This reminds me: When I worked in Wichita, the tech whizzes had taken public records of voter rolls and created a database for writers and editors. We could verify spellings, ages and often addresses and phone numbers of anyone who lived in the state.

Any database can have a mistake, but I can't remember finding one in that database. It did lead to the correction of scores of story errors, however.

A similar database -- and habit of checking every name -- might have led to this fraud's earlier detection.


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