Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute The Press And Imperil Free Speech

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Penguin Canada, Oct 23, 2007 - Political Science - 384 pages
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We Regret the Error. It's a phrase that appears daily in newspapers — the standard admission that something has gone terribly wrong in the reporting, editing, or printing of an article. This brief notice is generally accompanied by an equally terse correction. But Craig Silverman – editor of, one of the Internet's most popular media-related Web sites — goes beyond the stale boilerplate to ask key questions that concern everyone who follows the news, both print and broadcast: What is the wellspring of this flood of errors? What can be done to minimize mistakes? Does this culture of error degrade our media-driven society? The resulting answers make for a lively journey through the history of media mistakes, punctuated with a collection of funny, shocking, and often disturbing journalistic slip-ups. The errors are often hilarious, while others are calamitous and even tragic.By pinpointing numerous categories of error (including “Fuzzy Numbers” — when numbers and math undermine reporting; “Obiticide” – printing the obituary of a living person; and “Unidentified Consequences” — typos and misidentifications that create a new, incorrect reality), Silverman shines a bright light on the media's carelessness. Conceding that errors are often inadvertent, the author finds nonetheless that they are occasionally rooted in serious ethical lapses. He chronicles the decline of fact-checking at magazines and the simultaneous rise of fact-checking readers and interest groups, and voices a rousing call to arms for all news organizations to mend their ways and reclaim the role of the press as the honest voice of the people.Regret the Error is a book for anyone who follows the news, and for everyone who insists that our free speech be safeguarded by a vigilant press.

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About the author (2007)

Craig Silverman is a journalist and the founder of, a Web site compiling media errors that receives tens of thousands of visitors every month. He is a columnist for the Globe and Mail and for Hour, a Montreal weekly, and his writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, the Montreal Gazette, and Editor & Publisher.

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