Chris Shea, my Globe Ideas colleague, points to a Slate story about Politico's sloppy corrections policy that is itself fascinatingly riddled with updates, clarifications, and corrections. I'm not a hard-liner on minor blog corrections -- and as a part-time print journalist, I'm grateful that the online version of a piece can be corrected -- but it interests me that even among serious journalists, the issue of courtesy to one's fellow scribblers rarely comes up.
It arose for me way back in 2003, when I quoted Mickey Kaus's blog at Slate, Kausfiles, in a Globe language column. Commenting on reports of Arnold Schwartzenegger's sexual misconduct, Kaus had written, "He's not a groper the way Clinton was a groper -- Schwarzenegger seems to actually have a cruel streak."
Luckily, I went back to verify the quote before publication -- because Kaus had silently changed it to read, "He's not a groper the way Clinton was a masher." And luckily the change was made before my column went to press; I would have looked and felt incompetent (although I imagine Kaus would have copped to the change, if asked).
When I was new to blogging, I allowed myself a few minutes to fiddle with a just-published post, because it was hard to proofread (punctuation especially) in the preview version. (It doesn't help that my dying computer screen has a one-and-a-half-inch white stripe down its center.) Occasionally I changed a word to eliminate a repetition. But now that Blogger's preview shows the published format, I manage to catch most typos before clicking on Publish.
Obviously, Mickey Kaus was far more likely than I to see his words picked up and reprinted. But if I changed a loaded word hours or days later -- groper to masher, say -- I think I'd feel obliged to note the change somewhere, in fairness to readers and especially to potential quoters.