Skip to main content
standards editor

After The Globe published a significant correction on Tuesday’s page A2, some readers contacted me to ask for more details. Given that the article, about the increase in asylum claims filed by Canadian postsecondary learning institutions, had been published on the front page of the April 23 print edition, why was the correction seemingly hidden on the second page of Tuesday’s paper? Was the correction printed in smaller type than the original article? How would online readers learn about the errors? And how did an article with so many problems manage to get published in the first place?

To answer these questions, I’ll begin with the general and move to the specific.

The Globe’s policy on corrections, which you can read online, offers a good overview. It states: “All significant factual errors should be corrected in stories, graphics, headlines, captions, photographs and other elements that appear in our newspaper, magazines and all platforms.” What that means in practice is that when we get something wrong, we correct it everywhere the error appeared. In the case of a news or feature article, that might include the Globe’s website, the print edition and Globe2Go app, and off-platform publishers we share content with, such as Apple News.

In most cases, The Globe website is the first place a correction is made. Notification of a suspected error might come from a Globe reporter or editor, or a reader or story subject might use the “Report an error” button that appears at the bottom of every article, or e-mail directly.

My first job is to verify the information provided. For simple facts, such as which Leafs player shot the disallowed goal in the April 22 playoff game against Boston, I can often fact-check using trustworthy online sources. If, indeed, it appears we got something wrong, I check in with the reporter and/or assigning editor, as they may have important additional context and will work with me on how best to address the error.

As standards editor, I do not have the technical ability to make any kind of change to a story that has been published. I work with Programming editors or copy editors to update the incorrect parts within the body of the article (this might include photo captions, headlines or other display copy). For any error beyond simple spelling, grammar or a typo, a note is added at the bottom of the article to explain what has been changed, and why. The words “INCLUDES CORRECTION” will also be added below the reporter’s byline. (The Globe2Go app, although accessed online, is a replica of the print edition, and so it is not possible to update copy on the app. However, the correction notes that are published in the print edition – see below – will also be published on Globe2Go.)

In some cases, I am not involved the process of making a correction. A reporter will go through the steps with another senior editor, who will then inform me of the correction.

On social media, The Globe updates incorrect information contained in posts on its accounts. If there has been significant engagement with an erroneous post, or the error is being discussed on social media, The Globe may address this in a separate post. However, we cannot control when others have posted screenshots, or copied and pasted headlines or excerpts of earlier versions of an article into their own posts.

If the article was also published in print and the correction involved a significant factual error we will publish a note in the soonest possible future issue on page A2, a location in keeping with broad journalistic practice. (The San Diego Union-Tribune, Minnesota Star Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle are just three examples of newspapers that also publish corrections on page A2.)

The Globe’s correction notes describe when the article was originally published in print, including in which section; what we got wrong; and what the correct information is. Not every online correction is noted in print, in part because not every online article is published in the print edition; and only significant factual errors are noted on A2.

A reader asked me whether we use smaller type for correction notes than for articles published in the paper. The answer is no: both are set in 8.5-point type, although the fonts are different, which may give the impression of a variance in size.

Regarding Monday’s article on the increase in international student asylum claims, the reporter flagged the error to me, copying her manager, as soon as she became aware of it. The research for the story required totalling columns of numbers, which would allow the reporter to compare the total number of asylum claims originating from individual postsecondary institutions, as well as the total across Canada. It’s a task that digital spreadsheet formulas can tackle quickly and accurately – potentially more accurately than if a reporter were to manually add the figures using a calculator, as spreadsheets won’t miss or double-count a number if the user’s formula is constructed properly. In this case, the formula was faulty, and resulted in highly inflated totals.

A lengthier-than-usual note was required to point out each figure affected, and to share the correct numbers.

Online headlines may be updated – sometimes by Globe editors and, in the case of wire stories, sometimes by the originating wire service – without the inclusion of a note.

The Globe’s policy is to issue corrections in every platform on which we originally deployed the information, understanding that some readers don’t routinely read the print edition or even visit our website. As such, the team tries to ensure that updated headlines and other information are picked up by Google and social media. If we have deployed a news alert with an error, the team deploys a correction alert, so that readers who usually receive their information that way are most likely to see the updated information.

There are a few things for which we do not publish correction notes. Developing stories that are updated throughout the day are simply updated online (with what journos call a writethru). A label below the reporter’s byline will indicate when the article was updated. If the article is to run in the print edition as well, the reporter and their editors will decide which version to publish there.

Similarly, wire services will “move” an updated version of an article that includes new or corrected information. If the correction is significant, the wire service will append a note. Outlets that published the earlier version of the article will overwrite that first version with the corrected and updated one.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe