Journalism Protocols

I wrote a letter to the Austin American-Statesman decrying the Texas HB 789 provisions to outlaw public Internet. You can read the letter in an entry I blogged over at Save Muni Wireless.

As is typical, the letter was edited prior to publication. Fortunately, the editing was light. The letter already was within their 150-word limit and, thanks to assistance from Adina Levin, was pretty well done. I know you are supposed to rail when the press changes (twists?) your words, but I must admit the changes improved the letter—mostly.

Their editing introduced one significant error. When I viewed the letter as posted to the newspaper's web site, a reference to State Rep. Todd Baxter was mistakenly edited to identify him as a "State Senator." The print version, fortunately, was correct.

I'd always assumed that the online version of a newspaper web site was an electronic duplicate of the print content. Now I see that's not the case.

It's distressing to see that a newspaper could introduce so significant an error into their web content. Aren't newspapers supposed to be held to a higher standard than, say, bloggers? Don't those standards hold regardless of whether the information is produced in print or online?

The traditional pressroom protocols worked fine—the mistake was caught before it went to print. It appears there must be different—and lesser—protocols for web content than there are for print.