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With a week to go in 2021, I’ve responded to about 1,400 readers this year – some who have expressed gratitude for our public service information, especially on COVID-19, some angry about that same information, and many with strong views on opinion writers.

They notice the exclusive investigative work in our business, foreign, news and arts sections. And they complain when they believe something important has not been covered that day or when a detail about COVID-19 or travel is confusing or not included.

Despite it being a federal election year, the pandemic continued to be the dominant subject of readers’ e-mails and letters. In past campaigns, partisans especially have been quick to say coverage was unfair, but not this time.

One thing that changed this summer was the level of anger and number of personal attacks from people opposed to vaccine mandates. I had some readers try to argue that The Globe and Mail’s coverage was biased and that vaccines didn’t work or that they were experimental, etc. – the usual anti-science talking points. And while I tried to send published information to the contrary to polite readers, they weren’t interested. Still, a polite debate is always better than name calling.

Readers also write in noting errors – for which I am grateful. They aren’t always right, but all their suggestions are checked out. One reader insisted a photograph of her city was wrong, but it wasn’t and current satellite information was provided.

But generally, the knowledge of Globe readers is impressive. They noted that Sir Edmund Hillary wasn’t the leader of the first expedition to reach the summit of Mount Everest. While he and Tenzing Norgay were the first to summit, Sir John Hunt was the leader.

They knew that a French Second World War fighter was not a member of the resistance but rather fought with General Charles de Gaulle’s Free French forces.

And they knew when a recipe had incorrect baking instructions.

Math can also be a problem, with confusion over “million” and “billion” and, this year, one article that confused “billion” with “trillion.” Another error should have been caught by someone thinking through the math: It said a house had sold for 116 per cent over the asking price, when it fact it was 116 per cent of the asking price. Big difference.

But far and away the most attention was paid to COVID-19 numbers, case counts and vaccination rates, and if a statistic in their region was out of date, they very helpfully drew it to our attention.

The single error that drew the most complaints from readers was when The Globe ran the wrong grid for the Saturday cryptic crossword. In these difficult days, puzzles are a real joy, and that was a bad slip. They were sent the correct grid, which was also published.

And there are corrections of facts in columns, although most of the complaints I get about columnists are about tone or opinions.

If you think of a column like a debate, you understand that while the columnist needs to be accurate in their underlying facts, they are not obligated to argue both sides. As long as you understand that it is an opinion and enough facts are generally known or provided, you can make up your own mind.

And when you disagree or find the tone snarky, unfair or unbalanced, you are encouraged to comment online on that column or offer a letter to the editor at

New ideas, different opinions and notes about coverage are always welcome at

Happy holidays and hopefully a happier new year – maybe with less to say about COVID-19! Thanks for reading and engaging.