Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Reporters rely on invaluable in-house library archive

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27 March 2008 - General view of the Belfast Telegraph head quarters in Royal Avenue, Belfast. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / PressEye.com

Newspaper libraries are intriguing places. All human life is in there, normally in print and photograph, but of course, for the past decade or so, in digital format.

These libraries are, in effect, records of our society in all its hues. In the Belfast Telegraph's case, this dates back to 1870, although if truth be told, the further back in time you go the less complete the record.

I'll return to the subject of our library in a later column, but suffice to say that, at present, journalists rely on the contents of newspaper libraries to produce accurate reports and articles.

Therefore, it goes without saying that what resides there – digital or physical – needs to be 100% accurate.

If inaccurate information is contained and not corrected, it can be republished at a later date, much to the regret of all concerned.

Unfortunately, this happened last week, when, in a story about the tragic death of a local man, the wrong photograph was used.

The person whose image was wrongly used does not want to draw attention to it, so I'm not going to identify the exact article again. However, suffice to say that we are acutely concerned about what happened and apologise unreservedly for any hurt, distress, or confusion that arose from the error.

By way of explanation, the blunder happened because a wrongly captioned picture was resident in the library and was then republished entirely in good faith.

The mistake was corrected the next day in our Clarifications and Corrections column and the library archive has been tagged, so I am assured that it can never be repeated.

• ON a different note entirely, readers continue to keep us on our toes regarding spelling and grammar. I'm delighted to be able to report that the volume of this has decreased significantly over the past year or two.

It wasn't a major problem, but, of course, in an ideal world the paper, website and apps would be 100% free of nistakes, bad hedlines and the sort of language-mangling English that would of got the Editor all steamed up.

We left ourselves open on March 30, though, in the Saturday Miscellany column. The reason? An attempt, in The Origins of Words snippet, to define 'concatenation'.

It was explained that the word means "a series of interconnected things or events, as in Good Friday and Easter Sunday are a concatenation of Holy Week."

Unfortunately, the word 'serious' was used instead of 'series'. Oops. A reader in south Belfast was quick off the mark, unkindly renaming the column Saturday Misspellany.

Hmmm... a mite cruel, but point taken.

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