Sometimes we freelance writers/bloggers are going to make mistakes in our reporting. Be assured that it happens and it’s not the end of the world. Even popular, reasonably credible newspapers have had to correct misinformation they gave. Maybe you’re worried that as a type of journalist we share some responsibility for misinformation. On one hand, if we aren’t 100% sure that the information we’re feeding from is correct and we don’t add a disclaimer in our own article that what we write is subject to change as more information becomes available, we are responsible for continuing to spread the misinformation. On the other hand, just like the popular, reasonably credible newspapers, we can redeem ourselves by apologizing for the misinformation and providing the correct information.
In that case, how might we go about creating a quality apology note? Take a look at an early apology I made.
The backstory: I issued an apology about a post I made supporting the Paid To Click (PTC) website BuxBerry when it was in the early stages of going under. I had no idea that the reason I was seeing so many advertisements on BuxBerry was that the administrators wanted to work all the ads they committed to showing out of the system so they could then shut down. My mistake was not realizing that the never-ending supply of ads was to shut down the website rather than the administrators being generous with handing out new ads.
This apology isn’t as embarrassing as I thought it would be, but if you thought it was a bit overboard thrn you’re correct. It reads more like a “poor me poor me” confession than an apology. There’s at least the clear sense that I would eventually issue an apology statement about misleading my readers, but this paragraph doesn’t say “When I wrote the article promoting this PTC website, I thought the flood of ads was a way for users to stay loyal to the website. I learned that this was the opposite, that BuxBerry was in the early stages of shutting down. I apologize to anyone I may have mislead.” If I wanted to use this blog post to sort through my thoughts, which is the purpose of Blogging Blahs, then what I should have done is keep this post but then include an official (and not personal) apology in the promotional article I wrote about BuxBerry.
Different mistakes may require different apologies. An apology about promoting a PTC website that is going under needs to state the corrected information (maybe with screencaps of official announcements if any exist) but that’s all you can do. An apology about some news event taken from a newspaper or news aggregate needs to include the corrected information and links to additional correct information. It doesn’t have to be as many links as a post called “Linky Goodness”, but let readers know where they can find more of the correct information. An apology for information aboit products on sale would mention the correct products and how much they are. The key is thst when you correct any misinformation, you do it in a way that gives readers what they need to know without blaming yourself. I can’t stress it enough that mistakes do happen.