Craig Silverman’s Regret the error blog tracks the range of errors (and, in some cases, a lack of errata acknowledgements) found in various English-language news sources. Recent entries include a posting on plagiarism in a March 11th NYTimes article regarding New York’s gubernatorial succession process, while another notes a Sun-Sentinel subtitle typo for an “AP story about the hallucinogenic plant salvia divinorum,” they mistakenly ran a subtitle which read “Bill makes possession of Saliva a felony.”

picture of author erasing pencilWhile it could easily be passed over as a “Leno’s Headlines” site, upon closer examination it is a good resource for class discussions on the serious responsibilities writers have towards their reader, including fact-checking, spell-checking, plagiarism and ways to handle errors in online publications, since print, audio, video and online-text versions of a publication often handle error-correction in different ways, whether out of a desire to bury an embarrassing mistake or out of technical necessity. An example of the latter would be the use of strikeout letters to leave original error text in a blog, but to put a line through it, and then add the corrected text – this practice alerts blog readers to post-publication edits.

In addition to providing timely examples of plagiarism, the blog’s 2007 Plagiarism/Fabrication Round-Up entry can provide a good springboard for discussing the different types of plagiarism and the consequences outside of a strictly academic environment. The advent of “digi-born” and multimedia resources, including blogs, wikis, videos, and podcasts requires resource-savvy authors to keep up with protocols for original citations and subsequent corrections. The proliferation of online and social resources can also contribute to making the rules of plagiarism more confusing for some students, while simultaneously making intentional plagiarism both easier to execute and easier to discover for others.

Please note that the Library provides a number of Information Literacy resources to support you in your efforts to helps students understanding the role of information resources in research and scholarship. For more assistance, please contact us at infoliteracy@stjohns.edu.

Picture courtesy of Washington University Writing Center Website, Accessed March 15, 2008, http://depts.washington.edu/wcenter/base.html
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