Maybe it’s time for Honolulu’s newest news organization to hire a public editor, the way The New York Times does.
That person could be the readers’ representative, a completely independent and knowledgeable journalist to examine the paper’s work and help keep it honest. That’s the kind of thing the sole newspaper in a city needs to think of that isn’t as necessary when a city has two newspapers.
A good example of why this might be a good idea for the Star-Advertiser can be found in the bottom left corner of Page B2 today, in its corrections box.
Here’s what the correction says:
“The Hawaii Business Roundtable has clarified that it has not taken a position on civil unions. The Roundtable has urged Gov. Linda Lingle to veto the civil unions bill because of administrative concerns about implementation. A Page B3 article Thursday described the group’s position incorrectly.”
I pointed out this error on Civil Beat Friday. It is true that the article described the group’s position incorrectly. But what the correction fails to acknowledge is that the error occurred in an above-the-fold, front-page headline Thursday, not just in the article. That headline was what most people will remember. Not the Page B3 article. If the paper is going to use a tabloid/magazine-style front page, with just one centerpiece article surrounded by a number of headlines telling readers what’s inside the paper, it needs to treat those headlines as objects that have value in and of themselves. That means they need to be corrected, too.