Off line: The Portland Daily Sun does at least one thing better than any other newspaper in the state. The Sun posts all corrections online.
Unfortunately, the paper doesn’t follow up on those postings by actually correcting the erroneous stories. For instance, an August 31 article on the discovery of a swastika painted on a wall at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland misspelled the name of one of the people who discovered the graffiti. On Sept. 2, the Sun ran a correction (although the paper actually referred to it as a clarification, which is another mistake), but the original story remained online with the misspelling intact.
The Portland Press Herald almost never posts notices of corrections on its Website. But it does fix the errors in stories and places a notice at the top that indicates what was changed. The trouble with that approach is that website readers who only saw the first version have no way of knowing it was later altered.
The Press Herald’s sister papers, the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal seem to follow this same reader unfriendly policy.
The Bangor Daily News makes it easy to report an error, but like the Press Herald, doesn’t often include any mention of the mistake online.
The Lewiston Sun Journal’s corrections appear on its website, but not in a form that makes it simple to find the article they refer to. Nor does there seem to be an easily accessible place where these corrections are listed.
As far as I can tell, the Times Record and Journal Tribune, the state’s two afternoon dailies, don’t post corrections online, although given the primitive nature of their Websites, it’s tough to tell.
Skewed view: On Sept. 1, the Press Herald ran a story by staff writer Dennis Hoey headlined, “Irene fails to dampen Labor Day predictions.” It presented a generally rosy outlook for tourism businesses over the holiday weekend, a prediction that was supported by little more than anecdotal evidence from a variety of industry types with a stake in making the situation look as bright as possible.
As is usually the case with the Portland paper’s pro-business slant, no opposing opinions were included. But contrary – and more authoritative – views were readily available if anyone at the Press Herald had chosen to pursue them. One day later, the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Southern Maine released figures to the Associated Presspredicting traffic on the Maine Turnpike would be down six percent over Labor Day compared to the same dates last year.
It wouldn’t have taken much effort to include that information in Hoey’s story, but then somebody would have had to come up with a less positive headline.
Al Diamon can be emailed at email@example.com.