Down East 2013 ©
What amazes me about the Maine media isn’t how many mistakes they make (the number doesn’t seem excessive), but how few they correct.
Or correct without noting that they’ve done so.
Or correct in ways that are almost certain not to attract the notice of most people who saw the incorrect version.
The Portland Press Herald seems to be the state’s only daily news outlet that consistently and prominently notes corrections, both in print and online. Mistakes are clearly posted on the home page of the Press Herald’s Web site, on the page of the original article that contained the error and on page 2 of the print edition.
The Bangor Daily News, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel publish corrections in print and sometimes fix their online errors. But notice of the mistake isn’t posted on their home pages and often isn’t noted on the revised article. That means those who saw the original erroneous version are unlikely to be alerted to the problem.
The Lewiston Sun Journal seems to be unaware of most of its major bloopers. For instance, the Sun Journal ran a headline in its May 17 edition that read, “Wells votes down water extraction.” The story, from the Maine Sunday Telegram, correctly stated that Wells voters rejected a proposal that would have effectively banned water extraction.
No need to correct this online, since the Sun Journal didn’t post it on its Web site, but a print notice of the error might have been nice.
On May 15, the SJ ran a short story listing the Chrysler dealerships in the state that are being dropped by the company. It also included a list of those dealerships that are “unaffected” by the company’s decision. 
Among them was Knapp Brothers in Kingfield, which was probably “unaffected” because it’s been closed for several years.
Was a clarification forthcoming? Are you kidding?
On May 14, the Kennebec Journal ran an odd listing among the obituary and death notices on its Web site. An alert reader spotted this name among the dearly departed:
“Augusta, Gop To Meet In”
It didn’t take long for the mistake to be removed, but no correction was posted, so condolences may still be streaming in to Republican headquarters.
On second thought …
Perhaps the least-often corrected errors are those of omission. Too many newspapers reprint press releases – without noting that they’re doing so – and without making sure the information is reasonably complete.
For example, there’s the notice in the Morning Sentinel  on May 18 of the guest speaker at Farmington’s Memorial Day service.
The article is credited to staff writer Betty Jespersen, but it’s hard to believe she did much more than regurgitate a release prepared by somebody else. The story notes that Adam Cote, described as “a veteran of the wars in Bosnia and Iraq,” will give a talk. What it doesn’t mention is that Cote is a former Democratic congressional candidate and a possible 2010 gubernatorial contender.
I understand why the event’s organizers left that information out – they’re trying to be nonpolitical. But newspapers have an obligation to their readers to be reasonably complete. In this case, that would seem to call for at least some mention of Cote’s political pedigree and ambitions.
Finally, there’s the problem of sloppy thinking. This type of mistake may not actually result in the printing or posting of actual falsehoods, but it does lead to, at best, wrong impressions by readers and, at worst, concerns by critics that nobody in the news organization is paying attention.
In the May 17 Maine Sunday Telegram, staff writer Bob Keyes claimed the art to be painted on the oil storage tanks in South Portland “will be visible to satellites in space.”
Since for the past few decades, your house, your license plate and your bald spot have all been visible to orbiting spy devices, it’s difficult to imagine why Keyes found it the least bit remarkable that these giant paintings would also show up.
But show up they will, which is more than can be said for most corrections.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.