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Newspapers Urged To Correct Errors

February 21, 1999

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Newspapers can improve their credibility by correcting errors quickly and telling readers how stories are chosen and covered, an editor said Saturday during a roundtable discussion.

``I don’t think people expect us to be perfect, but they expect us to be honest and straightforward,″ said Karen Baker, senior editor of The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash.

``More and more newspapers are explaining how they make judgments, and that helps our credibility.″

Ms. Baker was among 10 journalists who took part in a discussion of media credibility. The Scripps Howard Foundation sponsored the event.

Panelists discussed national surveys that indicate many Americans have lost faith in newspapers and broadcast news outlets. Many people doubt the fairness and accuracy of news reports because they see obvious errors and simple misspellings, the surveys say.

``Clearly we have problems,″ said Louis D. Boccardi, president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press. But he also said the United States has the most free, vibrant press in the world.

Some people may be turned off by the level of news saturation, Boccardi said.

``The flow of news has accelerated to the point where our audiences are having trouble dealing with it,″ he said. ``I think that’s reflected somewhere in those numbers.″

Judy Woodruff, a CNN anchor who moderated the discussion, said every newsroom needs to have safeguards to ensure accuracy and fairness. CNN stepped up its awareness after retracting a report that the U.S. Army used chemical weapons on suspected deserters during the Vietnam War, she said.

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